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Freedom and Equality

“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.”

This is likely the most familiar and oft-quoted statement from the Declaration of Independence.  From this statement, we connect freedom with equality.

If every person is created equal and has inalienable rights, they must also have certain freedoms to exercise those rights.  This profound statement initially separated us from the English monarchy, but over time, it accomplished much more.  It’s the basis for ending slavery and granting women equal suffrage and property rights.  Granted it took a long time for some of these concepts to take root in our culture and society, but it has happened.

Our social and political systems have evolved in a positive manner.  However, I believe there is cultural shift occurring which deviates from what was initially envisioned in the Declaration of Independence.  We seem to be embracing the idea that freedom and equality are determined by the outcome.  The goal has become achieving an equal result, rather than an equal opportunity.  I believe the intent of the Founding Fathers and the strength of our country has been the equality of opportunity, not the guarantee of a specific outcome.

Although there can be difficult obstacles and challenges to surmount, anyone can succeed in America.  You don’t have to be of a particular gender, race, religion or social class.  There aren’t any barriers that categorically deny you advancement, which is not the case in many other countries of the world.

Lately, it appears the equality of opportunity is being undermined.  We seem to be slowly moving away from a free-market capitalistic society and drifting towards a socialistic ideal of uniformity.  We are embracing some nebulous idea of fairness, rather than freedom and equality.  We often think it unfair if someone has more fame or fortune than us, and in order for us to be equal, we must all enjoy a similar lifestyle.

I believe we are all created equal by our Creator, but if you study the Scriptures, it is clear the Creator doesn’t define equality as equal results.  He defines it by equal value and worth.  The mere fact that we all have different gifts and talents precludes us from being able to achieve an identical result.

Furthermore, the role of government and society is to create and fair and equal rules, not guarantee a specific result.  History has proven it’s impossible to guarantee equal results for everyone. Such attempts have only created a different class of “haves” and “have-nots”.   These countries usually have a large majority who suffer while those who chart the course to equality benefit greatly.

America has a unique connection with freedom and equality.  As we celebrate our Independence via the signing of the Declaration of Independence, be thankful for the opportunity we have to be free.   Our freedoms were designed by the Creator, who assures equal value and worth to each person, not a guaranteed end result.

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