Questioning The Adventure of All Men Created Equal

 

In a society we have structures in place that are written and enacted by delegated bodies to ensure the safety and continued positive growth of the people and ensure the sustenance of the republic. These bodies are legislators and law enforcement, and those structures are called laws. In the United States, our laws are based on the ideals that “all men are created equal” and that the government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people”.  Having such an ideal as “all men created equal” is revolutionary, not just for 1776, but also today as prejudices run deep and groups of people are naturally and evolutionarily hard wired to be cautious of “others” and xenophobic as a strategy of survival (mind you I said groups and not individuals).

Additionally, not all strides to engender equality are met by all parties. For example, Mississippi only ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 2013 and in so doing finally endorsed the banning of slavery in the United States a mere 148 years after it became the law of the land. All good ideas in time, I suppose. However, when revisiting this idea…that in a country where all men are considered equal by the very spirit of the country it seems counter intuitive that laws like the 3/5ths compromise (which declared “all other persons” –meaning slaves, indentured servants, and non-taxed “Indians”–3/5ths of an individual in the census) were written and then later rescinded. Likewise for a law that bans the aberration of slavery—a country forged in the fire of such ideals should never have entertained the idea of slavery. Then again, the Constitution is a living and breathing document meant to meet the growing idea of freedom and its expanding definition. It is designed to meet its full realization, not to be born there.

It raises, however, and interesting philosophical question. Are our ideals more open in our minds than in our hearts? Is it possible that we can imagine equality and fairness far beyond our ability to actually create them? It seems like this may very well be the case. In fiction, many people gravitate towards the ideal of Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets as a council of intergalactic sentient species working together in a common mission of peace, virtue, and science towards the goal of boldly going where no one has gone before. Meanwhile back in reality, we can hardly make a United Nations resolution have more teeth than a newborn baby, let alone have a united goal of virtue. Many even in our own country (which happens to host both the actual and fictional councils) are leery of our involvement and are up in arms against any infraction of sovereignty no matter what the cause. Perhaps, with good reason, perhaps not.

When we look at our own legislation in the United States in regards to this it seems that our laws—our society’s DNA—need constant redefinition on what equality under the law looks like. One fine example of this is the existence of “hate crime” laws. Hate crime laws exist as an effort to curtail violent crimes against people based on discriminations of creed, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. It seems to a sharp minded observer that in a society that is able to espouse the spirit of its formation in action laws that curtail the committing of crimes (crimes already illegal as it turns out) due to the aforementioned biases that there is a failure to meet, or at the very least a slow progression towards meeting, its own high ideals.

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