Although we are all truly equal in the eyes of God, we see each other in an entirely different light through the window of our mortal perspective. We have made great strides toward achieving equality but we still have a long way to go before get there. I know what you’re thinking, how can I say we have a long way to go when I live in America, a country that around two hundred years ago officially endorsed the belief that black men and women were little more than property and now, in the modern era, America celebrates equality to such a degree that a black man holds office as its elected President? Doesn’t that turn of events prove that we are almost to the finish line?
The answer is that while we Americans pay lip service to the idea of equality we still have not yet incorporated its concept into our personal perspective on an individual level; put more succinctly, equality has not become an accepted part of our national consciousness. For that matter, it has yet to register in our human consciousness, worldwide.
I believe that true equality is what John Lennon was attempting to articulate musically when he wrote “imagine”. Not just the notion of equality but the very concept of what it feels like to experience that state first hand. Consider this – if we eliminate race, gender and religious practice as prerequisite to the establishment of human identity what idea are we left with as a concept of self?
We are all the same species, despite our differences of opinion and it frustrates me that we cannot seem to base our interactions with each other on this foundation alone. Actively recognize that even though we may not like to think about it we are all one people. Simply replace the words man and woman, black or white, believer or infidel with a single alternate description – Human. Remove the unnecessary adjectives and treat everyone as an equal member of the human race.
The political maneuvering and subsequent legal confusion surrounding gay marriage really stumps me. To my understanding it is illegal to discriminate against another person based upon their age, race, religion or gender in this country. Therefore from a legal perspective, marriage is simply another form of contractual obligation and has nothing to do with gender at all. Rewrite the question from my perspective. Should we allow the contract of marriage to be agreed upon between two human beings? If that is the only information I give you to make your decision the only logical answer must be yes, unless you happen to disagree with the idea of marriage on principal alone.
It would be a much simpler world if we just agreed to follow a few basic rules and let the rest sort itself out naturally. This is the twenty-first century, the era of enlightened man, supposedly. It’s not like we don’t already have a worldwide consensus on the basics. Discounting sociopaths for a moment, just about every person believes that no human being should willfully harm another human being (reasonable self-defense on a personal level excluded). The practices of capital punishment and the declaration of war between sovereign nations are equally unconscionable and cannot be justified as sane thinking. We can easily admit that no human being should take anything from another human being without their permission. That’s pretty much it. So why can’t we seem to make additional progress toward true equality, even in our personal relationships, let alone on a national scale?
I am going to veer slightly off course at this point as I know that many Americans would question why I include capital punishment in the above paragraph. Consider this hypothetical scenario: John kills Bob in an act of pre-meditated murder. As a way of meting out justice and as fit punishment for the crime, we impose a death sentence on John. Assuming that John’s lawyers don’t appeal the decision and delay the execution for years on end, John will be subsequently killed within a week of the decision.
Now, is death truly an adequate punishment for the crime of murder in this case? The only person who could unequivocally answer yes is the individual who believes that John is fated to burn in Hell for all eternity or what I call ‘eye for an eye’ blindness. I for one would rather see John behind bars for the rest of his natural life without possibility of parole. This provides a heavy punishment for the act of murder while still allowing for the possibility that John did not actually kill Bob and was incorrectly convicted of the crime.
Now, while I have no wish to see my life come to an end, I personally have no fear of death itself. My religious viewpoint does not allow for the existence of Hell and my concept of God dictates that at the moment of biological death, my consciousness will journey to God’s side to reside in peace everlasting without the requirement of earthly salvation determining my eligibility to receive God’s pardon. After all, what parental figure could condemn a child they truly love to the equivalent of unending torture and then multiply that condemnation exponentially with the proposition that their child will also be forever banished from their presence and in effect cut off from their love for all eternity? As a father myself I feel justified in saying that I don’t believe any loving parent could do such a thing to their child.
I therefore tend to see capital punishment as the easy way out, for the murderer at least. I much prefer the proposition that a convicted murderer will be forced to confront the reality of their actions each and every day while they live in confinement. Hopefully they will also begin to understand the morality of their actions to the point where they may come to truly understand the impetus for their decisions and change their perspective altogether. After all, every human being is capable of personal redemption. Can we in all good conscience deprive anyone of the opportunity to achieve it?
This is another area where I find myself confused. How can such a large number of Americans, while claiming to be Christian, choose to argue in support of the death penalty? If you believe that God will forgive the sins of mortal man through the process of real remorse communicated via prayer, if you believe that the prospect of salvation is a very real possibility for every man while they still live, can you then justify taking anyone’s life in the name of retribution? I submit that anyone who follows the full teachings of Joshua of Nazareth would never willingly deprive anyone of the opportunity to find salvation.
Furthermore from that same perspective only God has the authority to condemn an individual soul to Hell. In my opinion the phrase ’judge not lest ye be judged’ should never be used in an everyday context, particularly given that our species tends to be extremely judgmental as a rule. If you insist on applying the idea of biblical salvation to every human being I would then ask you to think of the aforementioned phrase in a different manner: ‘condemn not your fellow man for condemnation is the province of God alone’.
Now, back to where I left off, with the acknowledgement of a tremendously hard dose of reality – we can’t make additional progress toward the establishment of true equality because many of us don’t really consider everyone to actually be equal. I do not refer to wealth as a measure of value although it is true that despite our best intentions we remain a class-orientated society (interestingly, the height of one’s social position no longer seems to matter as much as the depth of one’s bank account).
I instead refer to the commonplace practice of applying stereotypes to others in spite of our better judgment and allowing those labels to influence our determination of a person’s value in relation to our own. I submit that when considering the nature of equality, it should not matter whether a person is black or white, male or female, gay or straight, Christian or Muslim. These labels are irrelevant and cannot legitimately be used to raise or lower the perceived value of the individual within the boundaries of an equal society if one is speaking from a position based on logic. We owe it to ourselves to support equality, unconditionally, and learn to respond rather than react.