A question often comes up about which is more important, as if the comparison was altogether fair, which it isn’t. Do we assign freedom (liberty), or equality (impartiality–fairness) with the highest value? No quick answer is sufficient without a good bit of thought behind it. The same is true if you’re asked would you rather give up a hand, or an eye? How about both hands or both eyes? Not enough to just consider what you keep, but also what you give up. It is complicated further if it becomes a question of the dominant hand or the dominant eye, doesn’t it?
The concept of equality as far as governance is concerned, is that we are all equal, or should be equal under the law. In life, there are many inequities by the very nature of things that cannot become level by legislation or litigation. In matters of thought, equality is not going to be realistic. That would require we all have the same intellect, which of course is not the way things are. I’m often made aware of my poverty in that department when faced with the superior thinking of quite a few others.
But without the freedom of thought, the benefits of fair and reasonable, which should be some motive for certain equalities, may not become easily realized. Freedom of mind should allow for the opportunity to move closer to understanding, without which the pursuit of happiness will be hampered. Laws that are not impartial or fair to all governed by them suggest some freedoms are being restricted, modified, or withheld from some, according to station determined by some prejudicial method.
Without understanding, people tend to find themselves in constant turmoil, conflict, and controversy, wrapped up in unresolvable ideological entanglements often not based on or verifiable by evidence, or from any rational thinking, for that matter. For many situations in life, understanding and the pursuit of happiness are cotangents of the kinds of behavior supporting fairness–with all participating having some right to fair treatment as well as the responsibility to extend the same in kind.
The rights of people to be free even in their thinking is something that should be available to everyone–equal in that right with each other. For example, we cannot have a freedom OF religion unless everyone is at the same time allowed to have a freedom FROM religion. And so it is the freedom itself that is to be extended equally.
Some living things require oxygen and water to survive. Those two things, quite different from each other are both important. The one that might seem most important at any given time is whichever one is being made hardest to get. Too much air can dehydrate an organism, and too much water could drown it. So with that, when either liberty or equality is pushed to some extreme measure, they can become quite the opposite of each other. The drowning man is probably not thirsty.