Do you ever people watch? Not stalk, that’s different, but just watch? In-between classes, I sometimes enjoy sitting in a public area on my campus and enjoying the view. People are funny. Some people take their day seriously, charging full speed everywhere they go. Other people are chill, taking everything and everyone in their stride. You can tell when people are friends, and when people aren’t on the best terms. There’s so much diversity, a surprising amount of unity, but not everything is peachy. We joke that there’s always a protest going on by our library: a stereotype that’s mostly true. In the middle of the calm, there’s a storm. Inequality. Discrimination. Hurt. Pain. Why is that?
I’ll be honest: when I saw the thumbnail for A Centaur’s Life on Crunchyroll, one question popped into my head. “How do centaurs put on pants?” I mean, look at this!
How do centaurs even put on pants? I mean, you can only bend so far at the waist! Would they need to bend their knees too? But then they’d have 4 knees to work those pants over! Even then, how would the pants fit? How would they stay on?
As these questions buzzed furiously through my head, I clicked on the first episode and settled in. Taking place in a fantasy world not too unlike ours, the main premise of the series is that humans evolved in such a way as to retain certain characteristics from their animal ancestors. Thus, the angel people have angel wings, fauns have horns, and centaurs have horse-flavored lower bodies. Due to these bodily differences, the past of this world was fraught with discrimination and hatred. We even see flashbacks of centaurs and merfolk used as slaves by the angelfolk, an interesting callback to darker times in our own history. Indeed, the series likes to use its’ diverse cast as a (not-so) subtle commentary on the state of our own social issues. Heck, the show even goes on to say that equality is more important than “civil rights or even life itself!”
Racial injustice and social discrimination are real issues that do affect us and the world we live in. Black Wall Streets and white ghettos alike, the world doesn’t seem fair. Humans can’t seem to ever get along, and whenever we seem to pass one milestone in our acceptance of one another, we seem to fall into another hole. After so much failure, one has to ask what the solution is. How do we solve inequality?
Answering this question opens a huge can of worms, so let’s start by taking a look at an established viewpoint in regards to this issue: Marxism.
Communist memes aside, Marxism came onto the scene as an attempt to understand the human condition from a humanistic point of view. In other words, the goal of Marxism is to understand how the world came about, what’s wrong with it, and how to fix it, all from the viewpoint of a naturalist perspective. All worldviews have this basic structure of Origin, Problem, and Fix, but Marxism is unique in that it sees the Problem of the universe as private property. If the world originated by purely natural causes, then the ultimate goal of humanity is to manipulate and understand the world we live in. Matter is the ultimate Truth, and the distortion of that truth is the creation of private property. Our class-based and socially-stratified system is the cause of oppression and inequality. In order to redeem mankind, Marx argues, the working class man must throw off the shackles of classism, and return to the natural order of communism.
Appealing as this sounds, Marxism is plagued by several problems. First, if the cause of social injustice is the social order, why then must social equality be forced onto the masses? Communistic societies have historically been totalitarian, with the state holding the heavy stick to keep everyone in line. Like Diana throughout most of Wonder Woman, we approach humans as if their evil comes from an outside source: only by destroying Ares – or in this case, social classes – can human beings find peace with one another. Like Diana, however, Marxists face an unexpected surprise when their utopias lend themselves to a 2-class society: those who are equal, and those who are slightly more equal. Obviously, it isn’t society that makes people bad.
If society isn’t the cause of man’s problems, then the answer must lie in man himself. Yet, if the cause of problems lies within man, then that supposes that man also has the ability to make right choices. If man has the ability to choose right or wrong, then there must be a moral standard to determine right from wrong. If there is no such thing as objective truth, and truth is subjective, then there is no right and wrong, and man is reduced to a machine. Yet if man is a machine, no decision ever has any true meaning, as it implies that every choice you make is the logical result of synapses firing in specific patterns in your brain. Thus, from a purely humanistic standpoint, we cannot reconcile the upper level of meaning with the lower level of pure logic and reason.
So where does this leave us? Doomed to look at our choices and beliefs as a necessary fantasy to keep us going in our meaningless lives?
This is where Christianity shines. To hold a belief system isn’t merely to understand it, but it is to live it, and Christianity provides the most cohesive framework for both logical thought and purposeful meaning in our lives. God Himself exists as a Trinity: three distinct persons that are all equally God. Not three separate beings: each of these exist in full unity together. Individual, yet united. Together they formed man in their image: a being with the capability to think, reason, know, love, enjoy, and experience joy. Man’s purpose was to exist in fellowship with God, and to enjoy God through cultivating the world He’d made. When man rejected God, he retained the characteristics inherited from God, but these were stained by sin. Hate, anger, discrimination, sadness: all of these are a direct result of our animosity towards God. Yet God didn’t leave us high and dry: He came in the form of a human, to pay for human mistakes, and reconcile our relationship.
Our purpose is given to us by God, and our redemption is found through Him as well. To love God isn’t to abandon logic and reason, but it’s to embrace the foundation of logic and reason. Inequality isn’t the result of circumstances, but it’s a symptom of an underlying human problem: sin. Sin separates us from God, and from each other. Sin places the focus purely on the individual, playing towards individuality without unity. Yet God brings all of us together as one people (Galatians 3:28), equally loved by Him.