True inequality is not between the powerful and the weak; the rich or the poor; between the sexes or the races. True inequality exists between those who have a greater understanding of their relationship with the Good and Justice, and those who do not. The condition of your sex or race or class may change, nay will change, which makes finding that point at which we may be equals impossible. These material particulars are not bench marks which reflect who we are, how we live our life nor do they provide us a measure of how we live among one another.
It is our relationship with the Good and the Just that these material particulars reflect. Plato says that Justice is doing one’s own work. If this is the case, the conditions immediately around us are our concern and what we should be concerning ourselves with. When we concern ourselves with work that is not our own we commit injustice. Injustice, just as Justice, is not an action but a relationship. It requires more than one participant in order for it to be observed. When your neighbor steals your garden hose he participating in the relation of injustice. It is not injustice because he has done something morally wrong or against the law but rather because he is not doing his own work.
What guides us to Justice? How do we know that the neighbor’s work isn’t to steal garden hoses? Our relationship with the Good is what guides us to truth. The Good and truth are inseparable. Plato explains that when we leave the cave we are able to “see” the truth because the Good is the light that illuminates the world. Our relationship with the Good directly affects our ability to understand what is Just and what is not. We cannot speak of Justice without the Good because we must know what is true before we can do our own work.
Inequality is the condition that exists between those still strapped to their chairs in the cave and those who have ventured out of the cave into the light. Those who amass power, wealth, fame and status from interpreting shadows on the wall are in fact equal to everyone else who is looking at the shadows on the cave wall. Beware those stuck in the chair next to you, for despite their appearance they understand as little of the world as you do. Welcome those who look to reenter the cave carrying with them the illuminating power of truth.