Principal Six: Equality of Station vs. Equality of Opportunity

” All men are created equal” is a nice sentiment, but unrealistic. Some men and women are simply more successful in a society that provides an even playing field for all its members. Others are born under more disadvantaged circumstances and so have less opportunities available for them to succeed. In the Sixth Principle discussed in Skousen’s book, ” The 5000 Year Leap” ( pp. 103-12), the idea that ” all men are created equal” is discussed. The conclusion is that all men are not created equal, but they can be treated equally in three ways: in the sight of God, under the law and in the protection of their rights ( 103). In God’s eyes, we are all His children, but we all have our distinctions, both individually and in the groups to which we happen to belong. As human beings, however, we stand before the Lord on an equal basis ( 104). In the eyes of society, we stand on an equal basis in two ways: 1: We are all equal and entitled to the same treatment under the law. If somebody commits a crime, the millionaire will suffer the same penalty as the vagrant. 2: We are all equal and entitled to life and God given liberties on an equal basis with one another ( 104). What are these rights we hold so dear? The right to compete for a job, to begin with. We also have the right to demand justice in a court of law, the right to an education, the right to vote for our favored candidate for a political office, the right to freedom of religious faith and practice, the right to buy or rent a house, the right to enjoy freedom of speech, the right to free assembly, the right to purchase goods in the market place, the right to express your views on a public forum, the right to accumulate wealth, the right to pay your fair share of taxes, the right to freedom of the press and the right to bequeath your legacy to your heirs ( 105). Ideally, these rights would be freely available to everybody, but in the United States of America ( where the majority of people descend from immigrants), there are minority populations who have been socially disadvantaged, with tragic results. Historically, our Colonial families had generally tended to be at a disadvantage! Whether one descended from an English indentured servant, a Scottish rebel, a German religious dissenter, a French refugee, or an Irish dissident, one was  generally treated very harshly by the privileged in society. Very few families came over as wealthy landowners who used servants.. far more were the servants being used ( 107). By the mid- nineteenth century, these differences had faded to the point that the descendants of these disadvantaged colonists had generally tended to mingle together as assimilated Americans. They would then greet new migrants who would eventually become assimilated Americans as well ( 107). Migrants from Asia, particularly the Chinese and Japanese ( but also the Koreans and Vietnamese), faced vicious brutality in the early to mid twentieth century. Even so, these newcomers were intent on joining American society. Despite the fact that these Japanese- Americans were put into concentration camps during World War II, they sent legions of volunteers to fight on the American side in that same war. Japanese- American regiments were among the most decorated during the Second World War ( 107-8). The assimilation of Asians into the American tapestry has become an established fact. Blacks, or African- Americans, on the other hand, have faced the greatest number of challenges in their efforts to assimilate into American life. This has bred some exceptionally severe consequences, especially for the blacks.. One thing that this group does have going for it is that through education and freedom, hope dawned in these people inside three generations. They hurdled the ” culture gap” and soon enjoyed a higher standard of living in the United States than blacks had in other parts of the world ( 108). What is this culture gap that cultural minorities need to hurdle? Well, in short it means assimilating into mainstream American society. Learning English and using a local American accent when speaking it is one example. Moving out of ethnic neighborhoods into general suburbia is another, as is attaining a viable level of education, becoming economically independent and being seen as a social asset ( 106-7). Government social programs that were meant to benefit blacks and other social minorities such as Native Americans, proved ” debilitating and corrupting” ( 109). As a result, the black community was infiltrated by Marxist agitators in the mid 1960s who advocated violence to initiate social change. The riots and chaos that resulted, however, proved more damaging to the black community itself than it did to the majority they meant to target ( 109-10). A former Marxist named Eldridge Cleaver rose high in the Black panther movement until he was wounded during a race riot and then fled the United States for Cuba around 1968 and wandered around with his wife for eight years, seeing the blight Communism brought on the world and later returning to the United States with a grateful appreciation of the opportunities afforded to black folk there that they wouldn’t be able to find in other parts of the world. He paid his debt to society and used his experience to educate others ( 110-11). After the American Constitution was ratified in 1789, four amendments were made to protect the rights of everybody, including minorities. The Thirteenth Amendment guaranteed universal freedom. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed universal rights to all citizens. The Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments guaranteed universal voting rights to all citizens, regardless of sex, race or color. Equal rights, however, does not mean that people are born with equal ability and in fact, inequality of station is a by- product of liberty. Some will always have more know how than others and some will be less intelligent ( individually) than others, for example. The rights we enjoy as Americans, however, are to be enjoyed with guaranteed equality, so maybe we can appreciate a little bit more the things we do have ( 112).

The Criminal Justice System

When it comes to the criminal justice system in this country, I think we can all agree that there is a big problem. Not only are the jails and prisons filled to the brim with “criminals”, but there is also a large disconnect between crimes that get committed, the people who get caught, and the people who are set free. At the end of the day, the criminal justice system in this country is hard to understand and truly define.   Crime in this country has gotten out of control, but in a roundabout, circular type of way. There are countless citizens running around shooting people in schools, at concerts, and in other public, seemingly safe, places. Then, there are people who are at the top, like business owners and CEOs of large companies who are engaging in criminal acts such as tax evasion, insider trading, and more. Lastly, there are street criminals that are engaging in drug dealing, burglary, theft, murder, rape, etc. At the end of the day, it is confusing to define what a crime in this country actually is, and why there are certain criminals who get put in jail, and others who are set free.   LAWS   This country is made up of many laws. Some of these laws work and some of them don’t. And, while some of these laws might not seem to make sense, there is no doubt that they are enforced and must be followed. Day in and day out, laws are constantly being enforced upon the citizens in this country by police officers. And, the purpose of these laws are to keep the citizens in this country in line, and to also, ensure a safe and secure place for us all to live in together. But, if that is true, then why are there still so many crimes being committed today? Why, with all these laws we have in our country, are there are so many heinous crimes that involve violence and hatred still occurring? Crimes such as school shootings, murder, and child abuse. Are these laws that we have today even doing us any good?   It is true that many of the laws in this country were put into place for a reason. There are many laws in place that do make this country better, and there to stop people from doing things that they should not be doing. But on the other hand, there are also many laws in this country that are not rooted in any type of reality, and are not important in any sense of the word.     Who Created The Laws     You might ask yourself, who even created these laws that we live under today? And the truth is that some of the laws in this country were put in place by lawmakers who were attempting to make positive change. The problem is that sometimes, the intended change they were attempting to make never occurred, but the laws still stayed in tact. In a sense, a lot of the laws that we have today are not relevant to the society that we live in. And many of the laws that we have today don’t even begin to touch upon the real and actual problems that we all face on a day to day basis.   Now, I am not here to advocate for more laws, but I am here to tell you that many of the laws that we all follow are not relevant to our daily lives, and that is where the problems really start to creep in. For instance, a few years ago, it was illegal to buy, sell, or use marijuana. There were cases where people were caught using marijuana by the police, and they were put in jail for years. There have also been many cases of people buying marijuana and being charged and put in jail. Now, if you are in favor of marijuana legalization or not, that is not the point here. The point is that marijuana is now legal in the state of California. That means that everyone who was previously put in jail for marijuana use is now in jail for a reason that is invalid. Did the people who are in jail for marijuana possession or use actually commit a crime if there is no law pertaining to the “crime” they committed? There is truly a disconnect between laws and our reality. RIGHT & WRONG   You might want to ask, why would a law ever be put into place that would later be changed or altered? And, if laws are based on right and wrong and what is just and unjust, then why would a law ever change? Here’s an example of what I am referring to, if it is wrong to torture a child today, then why would it be okay to torture a child tomorrow, and vice versa?   Alas, there is a reasoning behind all of this, and it is not as fair in any sense. The laws change for two reasons. The first reason is based on the lawmakers themselves. Based on what the lawmakers of the current time want and prefer, the laws will reflect those notions. This preference for certain laws over others also pertains to what politicians want and what big business owners want. Each of these group of people determine the laws for that period of time. Another reason why laws change is because laws are created and made based on what makes money and a bigger profit. In the case of marijuana legalization, there was no way to tax marijuana in the past, which is why it was illegal. Now, there are ways to tax marijuana and sell it in the marketplace, which is why you will now be seeing more and more states legalize marijuana. It’s really just as simple and clear cut as that.     The Damage Of The Criminal Justice System     Let’s change gears and discuss the mental and emotional damage of the criminal justice system. Aside from the fact that the entire system is unfair in a lot of ways, there is another side of the coin that many people fail to recognize, and that pertains to what happens to the people who have been incarcerated and then get out. Now, this is a very important topic to think about because it affects every single one of us.   With the criminal justice system working the way that it does today, it seems that more and more people are being put in jail or prison. What this means is that one day, these people will get out and be let out on the streets. Now, will these people be able to get jobs after they have been set free? And, how mentally stable are these people once they get out of jail or prison? You must remember that many of these people do not have families waiting for them once they get out, or a cushy job and warm home to go to. A lot of these people have no choice but to go straight to the streets once they are set free. They will then have to find a place to live, a job, and a support system along the way. It’s truly a struggle, to say the least.   It is said that the recidivism rate is extremely high in this country. The recidivism rate is the rate in which newly released prisoners go back to jail or prison. In all actuality, it’s no wonder that this rate is so high in this country, how is anyone supposed to get back on their feet with nothing to their name, and not even a place to call home? Something needs to change, and it needs to change fast.   FALSELY CONVICTED   There are also other factors to take into consideration within the criminal justice system, and one of these factors include people being put in jail under false pretenses, as well as people running free that committed serious crimes. The truth is that there is no question that certain juries might not convict the right person. And, if someone has enough money, they can hire a great lawyer and get a much lighter sentence than someone who is only able to afford a public defender. So, you might want to ask yourself, if someone cannot afford an amazing lawyer, should they be punished? If you think about that question for longer than two seconds, the answer is no, everyone should be treated the same, but that is unfortunately not the case with the justice system in this country. Those who are able to hire great lawyers get less time, and those who are able to come to court in a nice suit get less time, etc. The unfair discrepancies based on income and wealth go hand in hand.   THE GLORIFICATION OF CRIME   There are some people who believe the reason we have so many criminals in jail and prison at the moment is because of the glorified criminal lifestyle in this country. Everywhere you look these days, all you see is people breaking the law and being glorified for it. Whether you watch a movie, a television show, go on the internet, check social media, or read the newspaper, it seems that crime is being glorified. While this might not seem completely obvious to the naked eye, it is a fact, and it happens every single day. Take music videos for instance, the majority of music videos, especially pop, rap, and rock music videos completely and wholeheartedly glorify crime. Some of the crimes that these music videos glorify include fighting, drugs, underage drinking, and even rape and prostitution. A lot of these music videos make illegal activities look fun, interesting, and cool. And in a way, it’s no wonder why so many young people are committing crimes, they are just doing what they see on their screens.     Crimes Being Shown On Television And In Movies     Crimes being shown and glorified is true across the board. How many modern top grossing movies don’t have any violence in them? The answer is, not many. And if you don’t think that fighting glorifies crime, you are wrong. Fighting is not only illegal, but is damaging to society in a lot of ways. Fighting ruins relationships between people and breeds negativity. Moreover, there are countless highly-rated television shows focusing on murder and insanity, such as the popular television show Dexter. You also have extremely well-acclaimed shows such as Game Of Thrones constantly showing fighting, violence, murder, and even incest.   THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS BROKEN   When all is said and done, yes, the criminal justice system in this country is broken. There are more people in jail and in prison now than there ever were before. Not only are there people committing horrible crimes, but there are also people being released from jail and not having anywhere to go. There are laws being enforced that are not relevant to the life in which we live today, as well as dangerous criminals running free, because they have the money and resources to do so. The sad fact is that there is not much that we can do except stay especially vigilant, aware, and educated, as well as follow the laws that have been set forth, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. The more that we educate ourselves and our children to what is really going on in this country, the better off we will all be.