We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Welcome to the inside of my head, conveniently packaged in electronic, easily managed digital form.
I decided I wanted to begin this endeavor by laying out the foundation of why I think that I think the way I do about the world around me.
Let me start by saying that I believe the reason the quote above has been so inspirational for millions around the world is this idea of equality. While that ideal has been less than perfectly executed in reality (slavery, women’s rights, extermination/relocation of Native Americans, etc.) the philosophy behind the idea that all people are equal was truly a beacon in the darkness when published in 1776 and it should be the standard that we, as a nation, should be held to today.
I think one reason the idea of equality resonates is because it echos the sentiment of the Golden Rule:
“One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”
For me, these tenets should be the litmus test for everything, but that is especially important when it comes to governance.
Therefore ideas that are inclusive — such as marriage for all, healthcare for all, education for all, fair pay for all, access to services for all — should be the goal, as in “all men are created equal.”
The rationale for denying these conditions are often cuddled up to the side of one religious belief or another. However, thanks to the First Amendment to the Constitution, there “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Morality is often a personal perspective, defined as a distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. While some behavior, like murder, kidnapping, rape, child molestation, arson, etc. are universally reviled and made illegal, most everyday activities are far more subjective. Some believe that baring ones toes in sandals indicates loose morals. Some people believe that tattooing curse words on their forehead is just expressive and cool.
Just as your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of another person’s nose, so too does your expression of personal faith, morals, beliefs, etc. end when you attempt to force others to follow them. For example, Christian Scientists believe that severe food allergies are a myth and health care is best left between themselves and God without the meddling hands of a medical professional. That is fine for them. If they find peace and happiness with that, more power to them. But should anyone of that faith impose their beliefs on me or my family, say by exposing my allergic daughter to nuts because, “Hey, allergies aren’t real!” Not only would their rights end but my fist may meet their nose.
Fundamentalist Christians may believe that gay people choose to be gay and that a few people thousands of years ago with no concept of science, genetics, etc. really know best about such things – good for you, I guess. But not everybody feels that way. So you may not like it, but in this country the “all men are created equal” ideal should trump personal religious beliefs.
Despite the 150 years since the Civil War, there are a lot of folks out there who are convinced that Black people are less worthy of equality than White people. Fine. If those folks want to be racist a-holes, that’s their right. But their personal beliefs have no legal grounding, and anyone who acts otherwise should be thrown in jail or sued until every last penny is gone.
So these are the ideals of the nation as I see them. Reality, though is less than ideal. It is up to the citizenry to stand up and act not just in our own, petty self-interest, but in a way that builds us all, as a people, toward fulfilling that ideal. Once we have settled on the bedrock of our convictions we can move forward,weighing our differences in a civil manner so we can then take on all challenges together.