Thursday, May 14, 2015

Equality under the law

Some of the most thrilling words in the history of political thought for a long time seemed bittersweet to me:

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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

From the Declaration of Independence

Much has been said about Thomas Jefferson, and as I contemplated his political genius along with his contradictions I realized something: our world was better for the ideal.

What if instead he'd said, you know, it would be really great for everybody to be equal, but some of us are, and some aren't, and, um, I got slaves, so there.

The ideal of equality is a wonderful one, and in practice I find it easier for myself to grab hold of "equality under the law" which is something the United States took its time in getting. But it IS there now. And increasingly so, as new groups of people find protections.

Today I feel simply pride for a political framework which could shine a light in a direction that could move a world. And expressed my mature opinion in a tweet:

Back then I didn't capitalize in tweets. Kind of regret that now. It was a fad kind of thing.

Imagine our world if the Founding Fathers had eschewed ideal for a more brutal reality, or chased pragmatism about what they could make people actually do in their time, instead of vision for a better future.

To me the greatness in the American ideal is not in our reality but in our sense of promise for our future. And as each generation faces its tribulations and trials we are committed to our ideals, as one nation, one people, with liberty and justice for all.

We are "the people" of the United States of America.

So much political wisdom in our history, isn't there? And I relish it, here as I have so much from which to draw from as an American and I'm very appreciative of that as someone who can speak freely as I do here. And in my own way, express myself.

As a nation we are not just what we are now, nor are we what we were, as our best is yet to come I firmly believe.

We will get better. That's what we do. We are Americans.


James Harris
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