The frontiers of human equality

By Dustin Woods
Visionary Columnist

Independence Day is upon us and with it comes some of the most ostentatious celebrations we American's can muster. Today, backyard barbecues and fireworks are the mainstays of the holiday.

However, the ideals which laid the groundwork for the American Revolution are just as ingrained in the American psyche as they were so long ago. I argue that these ideals have been expanded over the course of time to be more inclusive to even greater numbers of people than those values have been applied to historically. 

Many American ideals are written into the Declaration of Independence itself, “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.”

While we are 242 years away from the day those words were announced from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, we have taken every bit of those years to expand the definitions of “men” and “equal” a considerable amount. 

First, thank the maker we have gotten past the days where men were the center of the universe, and now we can safely say all people are created equal. However, the fact we are created equal doesn't mean we are all treated equally.

The greatest frontier we have sought to explore as American's isn't the wild west or even space but the frontiers of human equality. Those men who signed the Declaration of Independence didn't even consider women as having any influence in the political system, African American slaves were considered three-fifths of a person, and non-land owning white men were not qualified enough to participate either.

Today African American's, women, and even the poorest of us can vote…if we can find a way to the polls.

It wasn't easy to obtain the successes we take for granted today and it will be just as difficult, if not harder, to continue pushing the boundaries of equality in our country. We still have legislators who think LGBT+ people are so untrustworthy they shouldn't be allowed to adopt children who would otherwise not have a place to call home. 

We still have people who feel it is alright to discriminate against a group of people because they are attracted to people of the same gender. There are a great many inequalities perpetuated by those who find ways to benefit from them. The challenge is finding ways to show the masses we can all benefit even more if we ensured everyone was considered equal and treated without bias.

It has taken nearly 100 years since it was first discussed in Congress and over 40 years since approved by the House of Representatives for the Equal Rights Amendment to be one state away from ratification. It is a long uphill battle to do the right thing sometimes, but we must never give up the pursuit of American excellence by pushing the boundaries of our ideals to include more people and higher standards of treatment for them all.

Imagine the important issues we could tackle, like climate change and world hunger, if we wouldn't have to spend our time fighting for equal rights, equal pay, and equal treatment under the law. The arc of the universe does bend ever toward justice only because many people have tempered this steel under the weight of their hammers of protest. 

If we are to continue the successes of our fore-founders, then we must never rest on our laurels, but rather we must resist the stagnant ideology of inequality.
Copyright The Gayly 7/4/2018 1:00 a.m. CST.