STAFF EDITORIAL: No Ifs, Ands or Buts About It

Is equality all a matter of black and white, or is it simply all about the gray matter?

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When there are no ifs, ands or buts about it, there is no room to negotiate or discuss the issue. We think that our word is final; it isn’t open to question.

However, issues rarely fall into this category and there is almost always room to discuss and/or argue a topic. But the problem is that people cannot see past their own opinions and views to understand an issue from someone else’s perspective.

Such is the case with equality. In February, we celebrated Black History Month. This month, March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. These are just two of many social groups that are oppressed when compared to their counterparts. And there isn’t inequality for only these two groups. In addition to racial and gender inequality, there is inequality in religion, age, sexuality and many others.

One of the main problems that comes with inequality–besides the inequality itself–is one’s inability to see that something is wrong. When we fall on the more privileged side of the line, we believe that everyone is equal. It is when we are the ones being oppressed that we finally realize what’s wrong.

Across the board in different academic departments, and especially in the senior composition curriculum, classes discuss the “haves” and “have nots.” This is the idea that there are some people who “have”: money, status and privileges; however, there are others who do not have those same luxuries or freedoms. When we fall in the “haves” category, oftentimes we don’t stop to think about what the “have nots” do not have. A person’s views on issues will frequently coincide with whatever is in his or her own best interest. We often think that problems are “out of sight, out of mind.” If an issue isn’t affecting us, why should we care about it? It is only when we ourselves become a “have not” that we find this system unfair. It is only when we ourselves become a “have not” of equality that we start to notice all of the inequality that exists in the world.

As everyone’s views differ from one another’s, there is no ultimate solution to inequality. The only aspect of equality that is truly “no ifs, ands or buts about it” is that most people will see their personal views as being true; we each have our own “no ifs, ands or buts about it” and there’s no room to argue. But no matter what side of the spectrum you fall on–no matter if you think that everything concerning equality should stay the way it is now, or if you think that more actions need to be taken to grant equality to all–one thing remains constant: equality is both a right and a responsibility, and we need to treat it as such. We all know that laws have been put in place in order to ensure our equality, including the Fourteenth Amendment, Fifteenth Amendment and Nineteenth Amendment, among others.

Yet these laws are not enough. We must have this conversation with ourselves and understand that it is a choice whether women choose to work or to be stay-at-home moms. We must understand that age does not determine wisdom or maturity. One religion is not a moral deterrent over another. Nationality does not predetermine one’s character or upbringing. One’s love of another isn’t dependent upon their sexuality. The color of someone’s skin doesn’t inhibit their right to an education, a future or a dream.

It is our own personal responsibility to strive for equality. Equality should be imparted by human nature. We do not need a law to tell us that everyone is created equal and should be treated as such. It should simply be in our human nature to do so.