We hold these truths to be self-evident
Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 9:06AM
John Strain

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.

I was thinking about equality, while reading McCullough's book, "John Adams." All men are created equal and have rights given by God. The rights referred to are: Life, Libety, and the pursuit of happiness. The United States of America was founded on this belief, which is also a philosophy and a value.

As citizens of the United States, we are equal. Laws exist to detail what that means in day to day living. Courts ensure each citizen is heard and dealt with fairly.

When the above words were written, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington each owned some 300 slaves. The issue of slavery already had abolitionists on one side and proponents on the other. It took a costly civil war and some legislation in 1964 to give black people equality under the law.

Women were not allowed to vote in the United States until 1920.

Native Americans were herded around, lost their land, and were settled in reservations.

Unequal treatment has existed in spite of the US Constitution, the laws, and the courts.

When I was growing up, I often got into low level fights with friends. I might punch my friend or the reverse. The victim usually retaliated to "get even." More often than not, the retaliation was judged too harsh. "I didn't hit you that hard." So, feeling justified the offended party retaliated back. "Now we are even." "No we're not." Back and forth it would go and the result was rarely a win win.

In 2010 there are still charges of inequality. Offended parties are "hitting back," but the other side is thinking, "I didn't hit you that hard." There is no win win possible in our present climate.

I think part of the problem is that we cease to be Americans and assume a sub category of American. Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Republicans, Democrats, Women, Gays, Christians, and Atheists.

Special interests are big business. If one can muster a voting block, politicians listen. The scales soon weigh too far to one side and then there is a backlash. Politicians are often less about justice and service and more about keeping their job. So laws are not hewn with the tools of minds principled with service, justice, and honor. Laws are products of the highest bidder. We could close down Washington DC and move the whole process to EBAY.

Today, individuals often look to the government to soften the blow of their uninformed, lazy, irresponsible choices. Current government practice reveals that the constitution guarantees many more rights than Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You also have the right to be bailed out of a bad loan or not purchasing home owners insurance, or health insurance.

The 24th President of the United States was Grover Cleveland (1893 - 1897). He saw government aid as a means of weakening the national sturdiness.

Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. Vetoing a bill to appropriate $10,000 to distribute seed grain among drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he wrote: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character. . . . "  Source

Equality is not something the government does. It is something God did. Politicians and individuals seeking fortune and fame will gin up class warfare to create a market in which they can thrive. We the people fall for it and learn to mistrust or judge our fellow citizens. We learn to fear each other because we have allowed ourselves to be divided.

The concept of political correctness sets an orthodoxy to smoke out an individual's beliefs. "Are you one of us or are you one of them?" What ever happened to polite debate and an exchange of ideas while sporting an open mind?

The government cannot fix this. I must fix this and you must fix this. We do it by learning about issues - both sides. Practice looking at things from various points of view. Try to understand the stake each party has. Instead of developing battle plan strategy, seek common ground, develop trust, engage on the common level of an American Citizen. Agree to disagree. Show respect.

When one speaks their mind in public there is often an angry response. Polarized talking points are hurled back and forth and then the conversation often gets personal. The other side is either stupid or evil. Good people can hold opposite points of view on issues.

We do not have to fight for our rights, they cannot be taken away. The Apostle Paul wrote these words from a Roman prison:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Prison cannot take our freedom, poverty can not tarnish the riches of a peaceful soul, and a government cannot take our equality. It is not theirs to give.

Until the next time

John Strain

 

 

Article originally appeared on John's Online Journal (http://www.johnstrain.net/).
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