Wisdom and Equality
On Monday, all across the USA, celebrations took place to commemorate the action taken in Philadelphia in 1776.
How oppressive were the British toward the colonies? Were there summary executions for dissenters? Were leaders disappearing at the hands of midnight death squads? Was the real issue for which men were willing to put their lives on the line merely being taxed without being represented? These questions come to mind as one watches the wonderful fireworks and celebrations across the States.
These are profound questions in a time when the U.S. has over 700 military bases around the world, in what appears to be excessive military overreach that looks altogether too much like the British Empire against which the Revolutionary War was fought.
On the other hand, for the magnificent principle of equality and justice articulated in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. serves as a source of inspiration, a light of hope for those oppressed. Its words are deeply associated with the Statue of Liberty proclaiming America’s caring for the poor and downtrodden. Equality and compassion seem to stimulate respect.
The powerful words of the Declaration remain alive to the extent that one realizes their depth. “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Is that really so? It is not self-evident to the eyes or intellect that “all men are created equal.” Obviously some are smart and some less gifted, some tall and some short. And, when it was said, surely it was not an obvious “is” but merely a very idealistic “ought.” There were great disparities of wealth and influence in the 18th century. Without property, particular skin color, or gender there was not even the pretext of equality. But from the eye of the heart that sees the dignity of the soul, “all are equal”. The ideal was placed into history and continues to generate positive change.
This principle of the equality of the soul has become the gold standard of social justice from that moment onwards. It is not based on what is seen with the eyes, but what is understood by wisdom.
That is why it is actually wisdom that was being celebrated on the 4th of July.