…means that the rights AND the responsibilities apply to everyone equally…

“But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.”

~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H. Tiffany, 04 April 1819


There’s a sickness in America.  It is thoroughly attached like a leech to every digit and limb of the great body politic.  The root of the disease is also our greatest achievement – the fundamental belief in the idea that all people are created equal.   And yet, our society reeks of inequality at every level.  Those who are rich and powerful thwart our justice system, our politicians bend the laws to suit themselves, and our society as a whole is ruthlessly attached to making sure one gets one’s “rights”.  It doesn’t matter to each of us that the ship is going down, as long as we have the lifeboat we are entitled to then we are okay and we don’t care.  That’s not equality.  That is entitlement.  And it is entitlement (and not of the spending variety) that is rotting away our nation at its roots, because it’s a disease that destroys the very essence of our society.

Equality is not a personal entitlement.  Equality is a community responsibility to see that all people are treated fairly.  That’s not as simple as everyone is entitled to an equal share of x or y, or that everyone of every creed or race gets to attend public school.  True equality was and still is a revolutionary concept because it means everyone should be treated equally, not everyone is equally entitled to something.  Celebrities and politicians and every citizen should face the same laws and rules as everyone else.  People are who are different from the majority shouldn’t have to fight every day of their lives for the same status and recognition as that majority.  True equality would mean they already have it.  Equality means recognizing that the person sitting next to you has rights too, and that your rights do not give your carte blanche to trample on that person’s rights.  We uphold this truth to be self-evident, that all people are created equal.  Only when, as a nation, we actually remember the “all” before “me” will our country truly be the land of equality.

Res Publica

Documentation without Representation:

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H. Tiffany, 04 April 1819


Electronic Text Courtesy of The National Archives

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