Liberty and justice for all

Humans are rather complicated beings.  It seems that we don't even understand ourselves very well.  It's a good thing we've had thousands of years to try to figure ourselves out, and I'm sure we'll need thousands more years before we finally get it right.  But, it is very encouraging when we see society take a step in the direction toward mutual understanding and respect.

At the time our nation declared its independence from the British crown, part of that declaration was 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." However, at the same time, they didn't actually treat all humans equal (in fact, the word "men" might even have been interpreted to mean only males, since women weren't even treated equally).  There were people who were treated as property instead of people.  So, although the statement was bold and the sentiment poignant, they were still quite a long way away from actually behaving as though all people were created equal.

Fortunately, over time, we saw the evolution of society as it eventually allowed people to be granted the same rights and the same freedom, regardless of race.  It would be nice to say that racism is a thing of the past (at least in the USA), but I'm not quite that naive.  Sadly, there still are people that hang on to the false traditions of the fathers in hating someone simply because of the color of their skin or the nationality of their ancestors.  But, for the most part, "civilized society" is not racist.  This is wonderful.

We are currently in another social revolution--that of equal treatment for homosexual people.  For nearly 20 years, someone who was openly gay was not allowed to serve in the US military.  During this time, over 13,000 members of the military were discharged for being gay.  I actually find this quite ironic because enrollment in the selective service system is mandatory for all males from 18-25, potentially requiring them to join the military, even against their own will.  (In fact, I suppose, until DADT was repealed today, someone could get out of this requirement by simply claiming to be homosexual.)  At any rate, there were at least 13,000 men and women who wanted to serve their country, wanted to participate in the military, and were denied that opportunity simply because they were born attracted to members of the same sex rather than members of the opposite sex.

In the past, things much worse than being discharged from military service happened to gay people, but that's another story for another day.  The point is that society is evolving--we are becoming more civilized toward each other.  Gay people are becoming viewed as more equal and less dangerous than they have been in the past.  As of today, gay people are now allowed to serve in the US military.  I can't say I would blame any gay person for not wanting to serve, after having been told they can't for so long, but I applaud the government for finally lifting the ban and taking one more step toward true equality for people regardless of sexual orientation.

I believe that all men (and women) truly are created equal and that everyone does have the right to liberty and to pursue happiness.  I look forward to a day when society itself will agree with this noble statement.  It is heartening to me to see that we are moving in the right direction.  I foresee a day when people all over will be allowed to marry the person of their choice; when families will not be attacked simply because they have the wrong set of parents; when support, love, and concern win out over prejudice, misunderstanding, and bigotry.  I foresee a day when people will be content to "live and let live"--not to dictate to other people how they should live their life, but to let others have their own opinion, their own beliefs, and grant them the freedom to live according to the dictates of their own conscience.  I look forward to an America that, as our pledge of allegiance states, grants liberty and justice for all.