All Created Equal
Two hundred forty years ago, or there abouts, a document was penned that changed the course of history. In its opening paragraph, it declared that not only that “All men are created equal,” but also that this was self-evident. Many things are self-evident. The sky is blue, seawater is salty, and three is a good number of items on a list. But the inherent equality of all humans is not self-evident. It’s something you have to look for. And with all our differences, it can be easy to miss.
When the Declaration of Independence claimed all men to be created equal, it was less a statement of undeniable truth, and more an ideal of how people ought to be treated by the government. The state should not treat rich people better than poor, tall better than short, or interesting people better than bores.
Of course, the system often fails to realize this idea. We all know that people are treated unequally for reasons like race and religion, as well as being boring for poor or short. This is a great failure. But if the government really did treat everyone equally, then that would be a fact and we would have no need for the ideal.
Governments, after all, are just made of people. When we say all men are created equal we are talking about how the government should treat us, but really we should be talking about how we ought treat each other.
People all over the world boast about how much they believe in human equality. This is kind of like bragging that you believe in Santa Claus.
Adults talk about Santa all the time, but they don’t brag about believing in him. They don’t talk about Santa because they believe in him, but because he serves as a reminder to be good. We don’t say all men are created equal because it is obviously true. We say it because it’s not true, but we would still like it to be. The world would be better if it was.
Anyone can see that we are not all equal. We are not even created equal. But we can still treat each other like we are. It’s not a lie if you believe it.