On “Equality”

Equality.

A word so easy to understand, and yet, so difficult to achieve in practice.

Today, the New York legislature voted to legalize gay marriage, a big victory in the road to marriage equality.  A small victory on the road to achieving equality for all.

In 1776, the United States declared independence from Great Britain.  In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “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.”  The “truths” he refers to are our natural and legal rights, our human rights (defined as “basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language”).

Maybe he should have written, “all those in the human race are created equal.” Maybe he shouldn’t have left so much up to interpretation.  Maybe, just maybe, we would be living in a different world today.

That was 1776.

In the last 235 years of American history when was there ever a period where we WEREN’T fighting for equality?

  • In 1864, we added the 13th Amendment to the Bill of Rights and abolished slavery.
  • In 1868, we added the 14th Amendment and declared every “man” born in the United States a citizen.
  • In 1870, we added the 15th Amendment to extend voting rights to all “citizens.” One man = one vote.
  • In 1920, 144 years after Thomas Jefferson wrote those infamous words, we added the 19th Amendment to the Bill of Rights, allowing women the right to vote.
  • In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that separate schools for blacks and whites were inherently unequal (Brown vs. Board of Education)
  • In 1967, the Supreme Court overturned the “Racial Integrity Act”, legalizing marriage for interracial couples.
Some have called the fight for marriage equality the “civil rights test of our generation.”  I would have to agree with this statement.  There are lots of things I know we will accomplish during my lifetime, and I know that achieving marriage equality will be one of them.  Maybe next, we can tackle gender equality and then racial equality.  The latter two probably will not happen in my lifetime.

One day, I would like to get married.  And one day, I would like to have children.  I don’t ever want to have that difficult conversation with my children on why, because of some inherent difference, they don’t have the same rights or opportunities as other children.  I don’t want them to grow up in that kind of a world.

Will there ever be a day where we won’t need to fight for quality anymore?

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One thought on “On “Equality”

  1. Hello – regarding your post “Thomas Friedman” probably one of the smartest people in America” : A couple of points, specifically on the idea of sacrifice (tax increases) vs. “giving more away to people” (tax cuts?): Strange that in a deep recession – as we had in 2010 when you wrote the article – people thought that we needed sacrifice in the form of tax increases. It is basic economics that the surest way to get from a recession to a worse recession or depression is to raise taxes. You can’t tax your way to prosperity; furthermore, the US currently has the highest corporate tax rates among the industrialized countries (G-10 or whatever).

    We have some problems – growth is stagnant, and we are in a fiscal mess. What to do? We certainly need to control spending – even cut in places. Why is there a Dept of Education? You acknowlege that the education system is failing (even though you don’t necessarily blame the teachers), yet – the Dept of Education hasn’t seemed to make much difference except be a place for entrenched bureaucrats. Increased funding = job security for more bureaucrats, not better schools or education outcomes. Dept of Energy? Not exactly doing a bang up job helping maintain cheap plentiful enery. Eliminate both.

    I would recommend reading “The Forgotten Man” by Amity Schlaes for a better understanding of what causes depressions/recessions and what makes them worse. She can explain things much better than my rambling here. (sorry for that).

    Funny thing – I found your blog while reading responses to a WSJ article in response to the Tiger Mom book by Amy Chua. You made some very good points in your response. As to your point “there’s no right or superior way to raise children” – possibly that’s true but I would definitely argue that there are definitely wrong or inferior ways to raise your children. I am currently trying to avoid the latter and embrace the former – with increasing doses of “Tiger Dad” parenting. :-)

    Thanks for reading.

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