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Equality of opportunity is a value I hold dear

About DJC

The older I get, the less I know and the more inquisitive I get.

Unfortunately, despite a lifelong search, most of the answers elude me. That said, I love to ask the questions and fuel the debates that will ultimately lead us all to a better understanding of the big issues in life, the universe and everything.

They say that we spend 98% of our lives in our head. I for one would like to use that time as effectively as possible.

Yet I love sexist, racist and nearly every other kind of politically incorrect humour. I'm not sure why!

I love sexist humour, racist humour and just about every other kind of politically incorrect humour. I am not sure why, but I do.

I'm all for equality of opportunity.

I'm all for equality of opportunity. Picture: Shutterstock

I also despise political correctness. Again, I am not really sure why, but I have my theories.

Some would suggest that these likes and dislikes reflect the fact that I am a middle-class, middle-aged, Anglo-Celtic male living in a country largely controlled by a cohort that described in similar terms. There may even be some truth in this.

I believe - some may say I choose to believe - that these likes and dislikes are founded in two facts.

Firstly, a joke is a joke. When the punch line is unexpected, I often find it funny. I cannot just switch off the response, because a joke is politically incorrect (if indeed, anyone authentically can).

Secondly, I have a deep-seated belief that sexism and racism are attitudinal, rather than being about language. People who say all the right things and never laugh at politically incorrect jokes can be as sexist and racist as anyone else, and those who protest most loudly are often more so.

I am not suggesting here that we should offend people with sexist or racist humour.

We should always be polite. I am suggesting, however, that a joke being sexist or racist does not necessarily mean it is not funny. I would also add that if you accept this reasoning, you also have to be able to take as good as you give.

Having said this, of all of my values, none are held more dearly than ‘equality of opportunity’.

I have no doubt in my mind that of my five values, it is this one that I have been most successful in observing.

Unlike absolute honesty, profound compassion, and total commitment - all discussed in recent articles - equality of opportunity is, for me, much more than aspirational.

And while I have no doubt that I could be fairer and provide more opportunities for equity,  I believe my record in this regard is pretty good.

I do not believe I have ever discriminated against anyone, consciously or otherwise, on the basis of gender, race (particularly as they do not exist), nationality or sexual preference. The fact is, logic suggests that to discriminate on the basis of any of these factors makes no sense.

On an emotional level, I believe inequity is unjust, but this is not what drives my passion for equity. My passion for equity is primarily driven by my view that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to justify such discrimination.

The fact is that gender, race, nationality and sexual preference are very poor indicators of what people will be good at, what they will perform like, how they will react, how smart they are, how committed they will be or just about anything else.

Why would anyone with any intellect and appreciation of an evidence-based approach to life discriminate on the basis of factors that are in no way indicators of performance?

In an employment environment, I have always found that the best indicators of performance are intellect, education, cultural fit, attitude and fitness. None of these indicators are in any way indicated by gender, race, nationality or sexual orientation.

The best indicators of a good friend include compassion, loyalty, patience, interests and decency, none of which are indicated by gender, race, nationality or sexual orientation.

A good person is a good person regardless of gender, race, nationality or sexual orientation and a bad person, is a bad person on that same basis.

There is simply no logical reason for sexism, racism, or not voting yes to same-sex marriage.

However, the fact is that substantial pockets of society do discriminate on all of these grounds, and very often it is those who present the most politically correct front that are hiding the most discriminatory attitudes.

I am reminded here of those immortal Shakespearean words, ‘me thinks ye doth protest too much’. I suspect that on many occasions, protestations regarding what is politically correct are a smoke screen designed to hide discriminatory attitudes.

I have heard the politically correct word ‘indigenous’ used with the most derogatory of tones.

In this vein, we have all heard  liberal use of the word ‘but’. ''I am not sexist but ... I am not racist, but… I am not homophobic, but…". In my experience, these phrases are most commonly used by politically correct people who harbour sexist, racist and homophobic views.

The fact is, it is easy to manage your language, but much harder to manage your attitudes and behaviour.

Of all of my values, the one I have lived most successfully (some may suggest least obviously) is equality of opportunity.

Discrimination on the basis of gender, race, nationality or sexual orientation simply makes no sense. It is irrational.

But then again, so is denying something is funny, when it clearly is.

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