Thursday, January 04, 2007

All Men Are Created Equal

"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 Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

No one person is born more important than another. No elite has a right to rule over the masses by virtue of their birth. There is no blue-blood, there is no ruling class.

I've heard it argued that these assertions are neither true nor self-evident. But what Thomas Jefferson and friends were saying is that they held them to be true, and were not planning to waste their breath trying to convince the vested interests in the mother country. They said no one people has a divine right to rule over another people.

Jefferson apparently believed that we are all created, and I agree. I think that the Creator sees the beauty and value of every person.

Comments on my previous post leave me wondering whether I should be ashamed of the post. I never said that one race was superior to another (because I don't think this). In fact, I think it's kind of irrelevant because I'm not defined by my race.

I did argue that some ethnic groups run faster runners than others. Then I asked the question of whether other abilities could be stronger in one ethnic group than another. This is a reasonable step of logic. This is also an interesting question because it is so highly charged. Particularly with respect to intelligence.

But this is not a judgment of a people or an ethnic group. It's a question. Upon reflection, I think that if no one were racist, it would be OK to ask this question.

I love the quote in which Martin Luther King looked to the day that persons "will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

8 comments:

Jeremy Jacobs said...

You're bang on. Some of the comments below are just knee-jerk reactions. Typical of the victimhood society we now live in.

Peter said...

I understand your reasoning and your logical extension (ie, if race determines speed, what else could it determine?). I don't think you crossed the line with your last post, I think you stimulated discussion.

My point is that culture and opportunity may masquerade as race differences. Australia wins a disproportionate amount of gold medals in swimming for the size of its population, not because of any genetic strength, but because we swim all the time and encourage it culturally. Australia is to the swimming pool what Africa is to the track meet. But neither are due to race.

I guess the whole race thing comes down to differences between people. People tend to flock together, its just in our nature to congregate. People who like rugby tend to converse about rugby with others that share the same passion. So a pseudo group is formed, rugby lovers. People flock together around common points. Common, shared aspects of life seem to be magnets. I was at a Christmas party a couple of weeks ago and within an hour the men and women had separated into two distinct groups.

So people flock together based on aspects they share (whether these are physical traits or sports or professions, or whatever).

The problem arises when stereotypes or generalizations are raised about those arbitrary groupings.

It's the shared aspects that draw groups together BUT... in defining those groups it is important to note that perceived characteristics become oversimplifications.

Calling someone black or white, for example, is erroneous, as there's no clear line of distinction, just varying shades of skin tone. We are ALL half-castes. Jane Elliott makes the very valid point that the mere distinction black or white is in itself racist because implicit in the terms is that this arbitrary distinction somehow defines who/what a person is and how they are then treated by others.

Australia is a little unique in this regard as someone can be considered black aborigine with 1/8 heritage. (How they figure that one of the great grandparents was 100% aborigine, I don't know) but the effect is that there are red-headed, freckle-faced whitish dudes acting as spokesmen for 'their indigenous communities.' He's getting a little gray now, but you can still see red tinges on retired Aborigine leader Geoff Clark.

http://blackman.com.au/GEOFF%20CLARK.jpg

At first I thought it was a joke, but it's full on. Perhaps it highlights how ridiculous the whole black/white distinction really is. These are arbitrary artificial distinctions made by people who think skin pigmentation is somehow relevant when nothing could be further from the truth. As you stated, all men are created equal.

You're right in stating that the emotional charge in this debate blurs people's thinking. It's because this whole concept has been so abused overtime. What should have been a non-event, the color of someone's skin, has been used to demean whole sectors of mankind for centuries. That's why I love the Jane Elliott blue eyes brown eyes thing, and particularly how she reversed the whole Hilter thing making the blue eyes inferior. But, in reality, she could have chosen any physical trait to make her point. Height. Short versus tall. Weight. Fat verses thin. Sex. Women versus men. Skin. Black verses white. What about attached ear lobes or detached. At any point these differences, which we all have, can be used against people. None of them are legit.

General Norman Schwartzkopf recounts a incident where his father spoke to him on graduating from military school. He said something to the effect of "Don't ever think you've earned any of this. You have simply taken advantage of what you were born with. You were born into the most privileged class of people on the face of the earth, as a male in a white, American, protestant, middle class family. And all your opportunities opened up from there. You didn't earn or deserve any of it you just got it by lot."

All men are created as equal by God. It's mankind that fails to recognize that...

Peter said...

Hey, looking at the Geoff Clark photo again. Honestly, he looks more Irish than anything...

Onyx Stone said...

Yeah, I checked the photo. What a hoot!

And by the way, I have one attached, and one detached ear-lobe. What a freak!

Ian said...

Onyx Stone: Comments on my previous post leave me wondering whether I should be ashamed of the post.

As one commenter on that thread, can I say I don't personally think you should be ashamed. I'm sorry if my comment led you to feel that way - my sole reason for linking to the discussion on gladwell.com was I thought it was very relevant to the discussion. I accept I could have made it more clear that there was no more pointed subtext.

I think it's clear that you were asking questions rather than making assertions, and whilst it is possible to ask very loaded questions, I didn't have the impression that yours were.

If you were guilty of anything, perhaps it was just not taking into account discussions happening elsewhere in Blogpower about racist attitudes. It might be thought unfortunate timing... Equally, I probably brought too much of that with me to your thread.

I love the quote in which Martin Luther King looked to the day that persons "will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Indeed, and quick may it come.

Peter said...

No guts, no glory...

Seriously, the value of blogging is in debating ideas like this, in learning from each other.

Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,
I am doing a project over The Declaration of Independence and I am stating how the Declaration's phrases have not guided the nation and I read how you described how you agreed that the quote "all men are created equal" is meant to say everyone on the earth is eaqual. But I was wondering if you could write about how it had not guided the nation. That way I could use you as one of my sources. Would you consider doing that?

Aishu said...

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