All Men Are More Equal than Some

By E. Ashmole

"All men are created equal," says the American Declaration of Independence, and most men would say Amen to this. But is it really true? Appearances and experience alike make our eyebrows rise higher and higher as we look round at life with all its diversities. When, for instance, a Chaplin, or a Norman Wisdom, or some such little fellow portrays the eternal underdog we have an instant recognition of something more true to life than comic genius can ever simulate.

One feels sure that the Americans have a point here, but visit a maternity hospital and see if you can conjure up any equality amongst the new arrivals there. They come in all shapes, weights, sizes and colors. They come strong or weak, active or inert, vocal and voracious or silent sans appetite. And if they are born with a spoon in their mouths, one must assume it is either made of as many different assays of silver as there are babes, or else made of wood.

Soon they will be a bunch of schoolkids and what a heterogeneous lot these are! One has only to think back to one's schooldays to appreciate what a hopeless task one's schoolmasters and schoolmistresses had in trying to cram organized and systematic knowledge into so chaotic a variety of brains.

As for equality among grown men, where can one begin to search for it? We all look like forked radishes, said Bernard Shaw, but quite apart from so-called accident of birth in the social sense, one could categorize people into almost infinite gradations of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, ethical, political, civilized, barbaric, rural, metropolitan, agrarian, industrial, racial and religious types and still have room to include the almost unique, and the genius.

The question arises: "is the above affirmation based on a myth?" At this point it is usual for the lecture class to adjourn for coffee or something and to discuss more interesting things, but Ashmole is determined to keep on talking.

It so happens that last November (1972) he was present at a lecture on astronomy, given by the great man himself, Professor Sir Bernard Lovell, who brought everyone up to date on "Our Present Knowledge of the Universe." During question time the astronomer was queried in the following fashion: "Sir Bernard, you mentioned in your talk that the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank is at present being used to chart the universe, using different wavelengths to do so, and you said the results were 'surprising.' Is it true that the size of an object differs according to the wavelength used?"

Sir Bernard said one word: "Yes." Then he came to the front of the platform and added: "So?" "So -- at a certain wavelength, the sun, for instance, will be seen to encompass the whole of the solar universe?" The Professor again said: "Yes," and added that this fact had changed his whole idea about so-called 'empty space.'

Well, you may be asking what all this no doubt interesting scientific dilettantism has to do with whether or not all men are created equal. The mind boggles at the connection! If Sir Bernard Lovell is right, and we were to see our neighbors, high and lowly, rich and poor, not with what our eyes see but with some other vision, using a "certain wavelength," we would see them so big and grand as to be part of us, and we, in our turn, would be part of them. We couldn't be more equal than that. The implication is stunning. Is modern science going to lead us, in full circle, back -- or forward? -- to ancient philosophical and religious ideas?

(From Sunrise magazine, October 1973; copyright © 1973 Theosophical University Press)

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