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).

Eldridge Cleaver

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).