Thursday, October 27, 2016

Zionomics, part 5: Equal = Equitable?

nevertheless in your temporal things you shall be equal in all things & this not grudgeingly otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the spirit shall be withheld” - D&C 70:14
This scripture, and others like it, have been thorns in the side of many, for declaring that the Lord’s people are to be “equal” in their substance. This is apparently unbearable and/or incomprehensible, and so the rationalization machine begins its work to explain away this statement.

Beyond those simply unable to emotionally handle such ideas (due to covetousness), there are those who see the Lord’s injunction to be “equal” as an apparent impossibility when juxtaposed with the difference in numbers between people and resources. It seems paradoxical. Paradoxes must be addressed, and many can be handled by either finding an unexpected or hidden harmony, or recognizing errors which can be corrected to establish harmony.

In this case, many seem to believe the “fix” to the paradox is to determine that, when the Lord says “equal,” what He really means is “equitable.”

The first problem is that this argument relies upon correcting God’s word choice. He screwed up, repeatedly saying “equal” when He should have said “equitable” (both words existed at the times of the revelations/translations). The Almighty God screwed up, but we can “fix” that, by redefining the word “equal.” Perhaps later we can alter the text itself, if necessary. (This kind of thinking hasn’t ever bitten anybody in the ass before, right?)

Sure, the definitions of “equal” and “equitable” are similar, but that doesn’t create grounds for altering what God says. They are different words with different meanings. I don’t think the similarity between the two words should be used as a salve for a tweaked conscience, offended by the decision to alter God’s words to our flawed liking in the first place.

The next problem is that in an “equitable” model, it is inescapable that when property cannot be equally divided, someone must go without, and who goes without will be decided upon a basis of something like “fairness.”

For example, take a small marina with 20 boats, and a community of 30 people (or families, depending on how you want to view the divisions). To be “equitable,” circumstances would be examined to see who of the 30 most needs a boat. The 20 most in need get the 20 boats to call their own, while the remaining 10 simply go without. Sure, they can ask permission to use a boat belonging to one of the 20 owners, but they are reliant upon their whims for a boat to use, and definitively do not have the same privileges as those who own the boats. Therefore, slice it any way you like, stratification has occurred and the people are absolutely not “one,” as the Lord requires, but two—boat owners, and the boatless. And if they are not one, the Lord denies they are His (D&C 38:27).

It seems the reason for attempting this rationalization is deep-seated preference for a “private property” model economy, built on the fear of going without, and the insistence that this model never be abandoned. It is only the concept of “private property” which creates the insurmountable problem of incongruent quantities. So these two forces—God’s words and the concept of private property—are brought into conflict, and it is evidently the Lord’s word that people would prefer to see defeated.

However, if a people eventually moves away from a privatized economy, and enters into the covenant of having all things common, “equal” is suddenly the proper word.

In the marina of 20 boats, the community of 30 finds that they all have claim on 20 boats. This guy, that guy, that lady, all have claim on 20 boats. Meaning they are in fact exactly equal, as there is literally no difference in the 20 boats one has claim upon, and the 20 boats another has claim upon. Then anyone in the community who needs to use a boat has 20 in the marina to go down and choose from. If some are in use, they still have others to choose from. If all are in use, they merely need to wait, and one or many boats will return and be made fully available in due time. The people are all “one.”

As far as I can tell, “equal” is the word that best fits in with the greater economic designs of the Lord that I find in scripture. I think He meant what He said, and said what He meant. “Equitable” perhaps functions as a stepping stone in preparatory economic laws, but it would ultimately be swallowed up by the word “equal.”