Saturday, July 04, 2009

"We hold these truths to be self-evident...."

You would not believe, though you may well suspect, that the files on my computer are organized in a vast web of folders, sub-folders, and sub-sub-folders, etc. The main folders I visit under "Documents" are Politics, Blogging, and Mithernalia (where my novels and their supporting documents live). Under "Pictures" there are Politics, Desert Farne (the name I gave to my home in ABQ and the photos I take here), and recent folders of shots taken with my new camera. Plus "Creativity" which has sub-folders for Flags, Maps, and perhaps fifty or so other sub-folders.

With this blog you can see why Politics shows up under both Documents and Pictures. Next to Religious Blogs, Political Blogs is the most populated folder of my browser Favorites also.

In the political folders under both Documents and Pictures are sub-folders labeled "Foundational Documents." This is where I have the texts and graphics of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

All of the above is context to say that I consider these items foundational. I return to them again and again to refresh my memory and vision of what we, as a nation, stand for.

Most estadounidenses can recite this sentence by memory:
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
We citizens of the United States consider this central to our self-understanding.

There is a history to the understanding and interpretation of this text, however. By the time the Constitution was framed this text was already being compromised, with slaves given partial value (3/5 of a person is hardly "equal"). Over time that obscenity was repealed. Abigail Adams argued for the equality of women but it was many years later that women were allowed to vote. When, not so very long ago, the Equal Rights Amendment was floated, it failed to gain ratification in enough states. We clearly have not arrived on that one yet.

We have been progressing, but it is slow and partial. We have yet to grow into our own foundational concepts and ideals.

The current healthcare debate includes the issue that in the United States today there are citizens whose "unalienable right" to life is dependent on insurance coverage and the rules and whims of the insurer. People die every day because they are uninsured or underinsured or have insurance but are denied treatment.

If we believe the words of the Declaration of Independence, why are we even debating whether we should have universal coverage?

In the current debate over marriage rights it is quite evident that LGBT citizens, in most (but blessedly no longer all) states and at a federal level have their "unalienable right" to the pursuit of happiness denied because they are excluded from marriage.

So I suppose this means that if I'm queer I am something like 3/5 of a person?

Many people in the United States fail to grasp that equal rights are not "special rights." They are equal rights.

I would like to call this nation forward, asking it to continue growing into its own vision.

The work of the American Revolution and the dream of the United States of America are ongoing processes.

Keep fighting until are free and equal.
This is part of an Independence Day weekend series.

--the BB


Brad said...

So you think Washington and Adams and Franklin wanted you to marry another man?
You and the fundies-mirror images.

Paul said...

I don't think it would have ever crossed their minds. But that does not mean their words do not carry implications beyond their expectations. I doubt they thought women should vote or slaves be given freedom, at least not yet.

Ellie Finlay said...

Oh my.

That pink triangle graphic is very painful.