This blog has been ruminating over the various kinds of equality, and their importance to our way of life (see here and here). Is there a way to achieve perfect equality? Is that desirable — or right? Even to ask such questions feels like taking a subversive stand. Equal is good: that’s all we know on earth, and all we need to know.
But mother nature is unfair: she apportions her gifts unequally. Black men dominate American professional sports. No one worries much about that. But, a recent study reports, black men have a life expectancy that can be as much as 21 years less than that of the longest-lived group in the country. This seems wrong, a moral flaw in the system.
“I think it’s pretty fair to say we’re failing,” said Christopher J.L. Murray, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. “The score card on the macro level has been failure.”
Yet here is an interesting data point: the longest-lived group isn’t, as you might expect, those rulers of the universe, white men — or even white women. It’s Asian women. What on earth can that mean? One obvious fact: the most significant gap in life expectancy is between men and women. Women are privileged by nature, and no one worries much about that, for some reason.
Why is it a failure “on the macro level” that black men, on average, die much younger than Asian women? The assumption must be that something is done to them: racism, poverty, oppression. The article presents no evidence on the matter. But what is done to the Asian women to make them so long-lived? Should the “macro level” take credit for that?
It sounds absurd. A combination of genetic factors and life decisions probably accounts for the average life expectancy of Asian women. Nature and morality: one is given, the other chosen.
Black men — in the eyes of Mr. Murray, researcher — are not allowed a choice. They lack free will, and their fate is determined by the Guardians who rule at the macro level. They stand outside morality, pawns moved about by powers they can’t control.
Is there another way to interpret this assumption?