Equals in an Unequal World

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“Freedom is merely privilege extended, unless enjoyed by one and all.”

– Billy Bragg version of The Internationale.

For centuries humans have struggled for political, economic and social equality. The vision of equality has been documented many times, from the Declaration of Human Rights and the South African Bill of Rights to the Communist Manifesto.

Participants in Siyathanda’s Power of Self Esteem training have an experience of the great worthiness and value of every human being – the truth that underpins the vision of equality.

But how do we make sense of this fundamental equality in a country where – by law and by practice – ‘all are equal, but some are more equal than others’? South Africa is the most unequal country on earth: A wealthy minority lives along side a majority that are structurally condemned to poverty and exclusion.

Can the oppressed and exploited fully live their equality under such unequal conditions? Steve Biko and others have suggested that they can. In fact they argue that the oppressed re-claiming of their humanity is a necessary pre-condition to meaningful political and economic liberation. It is only by re-claiming their humanity that the oppressed can build a new society founded on solidarity and equality – free of racism, sexism, and exploitation. How do we claim and practice our equality and humanity in the face of injustice and inequality?

And what about those who benefit materially from the current system of exploitation? Those that eat well, live in large houses, own cars, access better resourced education, healthcare, etc? In what sense can they be considered equal? And what about those from wealthy communities who support and join the struggles of the poor? In what sense are we equals in the struggle? What is not said – that perhaps needs to be said – about our inequality? How can comrades with unequal access to resources and opportunities struggle as equals – how can we practice a true solidarity?

Please join us for a Siyathanda Dialogue where we used the skills and tools we learn on the Power of Self Esteem training to explore these issues and questions, and develop a clearer appreciation of the stand that we take – collectively and personally – for our equality, humanity, and freedom.