On July 4th we celebrated the signing of a document containing some of the most stirring words in the history of the world. “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.”
Let me ask you. Do you believe these words are really true? Most Americans will reflexively say, “Of course, these words are true. Everyone knows that.”
I disagree. I don’t think most Americans believe they are true and haven’t for a long time.
Our Founders believed “all men are created equal.” “Created equal” is past tense, which means we are already equal. The minute that God put us into this world we are all the same. We are all equal. Our Founders certainly didn’t write “all men will be created equal.” No, we are already equal.
If this is true, then why are people so concerned about inequality? How can there be inequality if we are already equal? If inequality is real, then all men are not created equal. We may one day become equal, but right now people are unequal. Obviously, what our Founders and modern progressives understand equality to be are dramatically different. So which is it?
Now, if we are already equal, what are we to make of inequality? If we are already equal and we treat someone as if they are unequal, that is not an economic issue. It’s not an education issue. It’s not a political, gender, or social issue. It’s a character issue. If Person A treats Person B as if they are not equal when they already are equal, Person A has a goodness problem.
This is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., meant when he anticipated a day when people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. He understood that racial inequality is a character problem, not a socio-political problem, because all men are already created equal by their Creator.
Yet, today too many of us think that inequality is the problem with the world, and that it needs to be fixed. But can inequality really be fixed? Can you make somebody not be a racist? Can you make somebody share their resources? You can take their stuff and give it to someone else, but is theft any better than greed? Even if everyone had similar life outcomes and opportunities, that would not change the evil that resides in each of us.
No, we cannot fix inequality. In a myriad of ways we tend to treat our fellow humans who are already equal to us as if they were not. Every one of us has flawed character. We cannot fix someone’s character regardless of how many protests we hold, how many laws we pass, or how much we bully, shame, or cajole someone. Progressives passionately and blindly pour themselves into trying to renovate the unrepairable.
Inequality is unfixable because humans are unfixable. It is one thing to improve the human condition. It is another thing to improve humans. Progressives cannot even perfect themselves. What qualifies them to fix everyone else?
The 20th century was the most progressive and the bloodiest century in human history. And it convincingly and hideously proves that humans cannot perfect themselves.
Inequality cannot be fixed because it is not the problem with the world. It is a symptom of the problem with the world. The problem with the world is that none of us is good. Even the best of us do bad sometimes. It is not that we are bad all the time. It’s just that we are not good all the time.
It is our collective doing of the bad that causes all the craziness in this world, and there is nothing any of us can do to change it. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We aren’t perfect and we are incapable of becoming perfect. Just try to live a perfect life. You can never do it no matter how hard you sincerely try. Only one person in history has ever done it, and that was because He was God in the flesh.
We are all equally and wonderfully made by our Creator. And we are all equally flawed and broken. We cannot fix ourselves any more than we can fix anyone else. We are all equally human. This is why we all need a Savior. Likewise, the only way we can have unchanging (inalienable) rights is if we are endowed with them by the same Creator who saves us from ourselves. No human or group of humans can grant inalienable rights, so no human can take them away.
Fewer Americans than ever believe the words of the great document which boldly declares that we are already equal because we were created by a Creator who also gives us inalienable rights.
Either you believe that we are already created equal or that we are unequal and one day may become equal. Which is it?
If all are truly created equal, then inequality is a phantasm. The 19th century historian Hippolyte Taine cautioned the world about progressive idealism. “Nothing presents less of an obstacle than the perfecting of the imaginary.”
[David Richardson of Peachtree City is the president of the Assumptions Institute and the author of the book, “Transparent: How to See Through the Powerful Assumptions That Control You” (www.TheTransparentBook.com). He is a leading expert on the basic assumptions we all make that influence everything in our daily lives.]