A matter of perspective. We see them as special powers because they're something that doesn't exist in our experience. To people who've lived their entire lives, their entire history, in a world where it's routine for people to have bending ability, it would just be seen as part of the normal range of human variation. Besides, the traits I mentioned aren't all learnable talents. Some people are born with greater intelligence than others, or greater social skills, or greater physical coordination, or greater musical ability, or what-have-you. Like bending, they're potentials that need to be trained to be fully realized, but some people have the potential to begin with and others don't. What makes a society equal is that different people have the opportunity to find ways they can succeed in the things they are good at. Whereas an unequal society is one where people who have a particular skill set -- whether it's element-bending or fighting prowess or high intelligence or skill at acquiring wealth -- have the system set up so that they'll always win and everyone else will be deprived of similar opportunities to succeed. Well, yes, I don't dispute that. Clearly there are some social inequalities in the Republic that need to be addressed. I'm just saying that making everyone identical is the wrong way to solve that problem. Just because someone's defined the problem correctly, it doesn't follow that they have the correct solution to it. But if you say everyone has to have the same potential in order to be equal, that diversity has to be eradicated, that is a bad message, a downright horrible one. Saying that the solution to bender/non-bender inequality is to make everyone a non-bender -- or to make everyone a bender -- is every bit as horrific as suggesting that the cure for racism is to turn all the nonwhites into whites (or vice-versa), or that the cure for homophobia is to turn all the gays hetero (or vice-versa). Diversity itself is not the problem. Intolerance of diversity is the problem. It was indeed a very nice hat.