“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.”
You may be saying to yourself, “Okay, I know this, but didn’t Thomas Jefferson own slaves?”
Yes he did. Mr. Jefferson grew up on a plantation with enslaved workers and as an adult, owned nearly 200. From Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest:
“As a young Virginia legislator, he unsuccessfully advocated allowing private citizens to free their slaves. Later he introduced a bill barring free blacks from staying in the state. His original draft of the Declaration of Independence included strong language opposing the transatlantic slave trade. As president, he signed a bill outlawing that trade. Jefferson recognized the evils of slavery, but he remained tied to the system and freed only seven of his bondsmen. As an older man, he advocated freeing and returning slaves to Africa.”
On this Martin Luther King holiday and almost 49 years since his death, the United States and the world still has a long way to go to reach equality of all people. It’s been on my mind lately, partly due to current violence and inhumanity that seems to be an unstoppable alien life force. As I was watching an original Star Trek episode Saturday night, I thought about Gene Roddenberry’s vision for our world…that we would get past our bigotry and hate and learn to love one another no matter the skin color, our country of origin, or sexual orientation. Although his Star Trek series would, on occasion, contain hints of sexism and stereotypes, the general message was always clear.
We are one people.
We are essential.
What would the world look like if we only had blue-eyed, blonde people on every square inch of this planet? Not that I have anything against blue-eyed, blonde people, but it would be a boring world and probably one that didn’t see much in the way of invention and creativity. The world could not have depended on one race or one lone faction to create the advancements and quality of life we see today.
Consider the inventions of George Washington Carver (botanist), Lonnie Johnson (engineer who invented Super Soaker) and Frederick McKinley Jones (refrigerated truck systems). What would the planet be like without the contributions of women like Mother Theresa, Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie, Benazir Bhutto and Malala Yousafzai? What place would this be without the LGBT community and those who have made a difference in society’s history – Leonardo da Vinci, Barbara Gittings, Harvey Milk, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, and Barney Frank? How boring for us if the world did not contain men and women, people of ethnicity, people of different sexual orientation and religions, people who love music, people who love to write, people who love to invent, and people who love to serve other people?
We are one people.
On this Martin Luther King Day, consider what I have written here. Do you want a world of sameness and non acceptance or one of a large melting pot that loves all, treats each other with unending kindness and sees one people on everyone’s face?
My God did not make any one person better than the other. We are all equal in His eyes, all his children, all deserving of his grace and love.
I urge and encourage the world to learn about humanity and how we all put our socks and shoes on the same. I urge and encourage the world to embrace democracy and freedom. I urge and encourage respectful and two-way dialogues, not singular diatribes. I urge and encourage every single person to treat others as they want to be treated, without stipulation – that includes those without socks and shoes, those without democracy and those without the freedoms of equality. Make a commitment to be the human that was in Mr. Roddenberry’s future.
“Equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now.” ~Joss Whedon~
Be the voice of equality.
Now and forever.