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"Created Equal:" what it really means

 
 
Reply Sun 21 Jul, 2019 07:58 am
The Declaration of Independence makes the following claim about equality:
Quote:
“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….”

But what does it mean to be "created equal," and in what sense is it "self-evident?"

The equality referred to really just rejects the divine right of kings (or other authoritarian commanders) to rule over others. It is saying that kings (and queens) are just human beings like everyone else. I.e. that there is no such thing as a person who is born with innate authority over others.

Unfortunately, this recognition of born equality can't and doesn't prevent people from entering into submission to authority based on arbitrary reasons, such as the payment of money. Choosing to serve a paymaster, regardless of the quality of that person's authority and prerogatives is arguably a failure of liberty, but it is possible precisely because human beings born equal aren't obstructed from entering into authoritarian relationships of domination and submission for bad reasons and to bad ends. They should exercise the liberty to avoid doing so, but there is nothing innate within them that can stop them despite their own bad faith.

The principle of self-governance by liberty is a direct corollary of the axiom that all are created equal. If no one is a natural king/queen/authority, then it follows that any and all are responsible for governing themselves and their wards and property with the same nobility of responsibility that a good king/queen governs their subjects. In short, if it is possible for anyone to be a good king/queen/authority, then it is possible for ALL to as well.

This is where the principle of liberty and self-governance connect with the use of democracy to create and manage laws/rules and power to enforce and regulate. A republic is not a society of subjects under the rule of a king/queen/authoritarian-elite but rather a society of kings and queens who are not free to treat others and property in any way they please any more than a good king/queen is free to treat their subjects in any way whatsoever. Just as good kings/queens are responsible for honoring their God-given authority over their subjects, so are citizens in a democracy responsible for honoring theirs, not only whatever authority they hold over property/wards/children/employees/land/resources/etc. but also to respect and honor the authority of other citizens over themselves.

In other words, citizens of a republic are not supposed to behave like subjects of king arguing about how they are treated and how they should be treated by authority. Instead, we are supposed to recognize our own authority under God and take responsibility for that. As such, we are not supposed to treat or even regard the president or anyone else in a position of authority as an overlord to be worshiped and/or rebelled against. Instead, we are supposed to regard him or her as we would anyone else who is "created equal," whose authority we would honor as not being above or below our own. As such, we are supposed to simultaneously respect and honor but also differ and express dissent in a respectful way; not attack, insult, threaten to impeach, and otherwise behave like rebellious children plotting to become mutineers.

When will people finally grasp the difference between a republic and a monarchy in which the people are merely subjects of authority? Our relationship to the president and the rest of government, as well as any other authority, should be one of equality and thus mutual respect; not of subjugation and/or the will to rebel instead of interact horizontally in a constructive manner.
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maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Jul, 2019 08:11 pm
@livinglava,
I completely disagree.

Freedom means having the right to tell God (or anyone else) to **** Himself. We have laws... but other than that I get to decide how to live my life according to my own values. God has nothing to do with it unless I decide he does. The First Amendment gives me the right to criticize, insult or offend you. In my opinion this is the key to American democracy.

The line "all men are created equal" is from the Declaration of Independence. In my opinion it was propaganda, and it never made any sense. It certainly isn't part of the Constitution or any other law.


InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Jul, 2019 02:03 pm
@livinglava,
livinglava wrote:
...we are supposed to simultaneously respect and honor but also differ and express dissent in a respectful way; not attack, insult, threaten to impeach, and otherwise behave like rebellious children plotting to become mutineers.

By whose example are you defining "respect," Trumps? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Threats of impeachment are based on the fact that the president committed crimes. They're not based on petulance.
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Jul, 2019 05:51 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I completely disagree.

Freedom means having the right to tell God (or anyone else) to **** Himself. We have laws... but other than that I get to decide how to live my life according to my own values.

You don't even believe this yourself. If climate activists are unsuccessful in making laws to curb greenhouse gas output, for example, does that mean people should burn as much fossil fuel and cut down as many trees as they want; i.e. because there's no law against it? Actions have consequences whether or not those actions can be regulated by government, and if people fail to act responsibly of their own liberty, they do harm with their actions.

Quote:
God has nothing to do with it unless I decide he does. The First Amendment gives me the right to criticize, insult or offend you. In my opinion this is the key to American democracy.

You don't like the word, God, but there is a fundamental natural ability of you to offend me that goes beyond the first amendment. Your natural power to offend me or to do anything else is described traditionally in terms of God because no human gives you your power to things you can inherently do without help from others.

Quote:
The line "all men are created equal" is from the Declaration of Independence. In my opinion it was propaganda, and it never made any sense. It certainly isn't part of the Constitution or any other law.

Well, the purpose of this thread is to unpack it and explain what is meant by equality and liberty in it.
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Jul, 2019 05:57 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

livinglava wrote:
...we are supposed to simultaneously respect and honor but also differ and express dissent in a respectful way; not attack, insult, threaten to impeach, and otherwise behave like rebellious children plotting to become mutineers.

By whose example are you defining "respect," Trumps? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

In any war, the ceasefire ends when one army or the other resumes attacks as a reaction to attacks coming from the enemy.

Trump is going to keep using disrespectful language until his opponents become respectful. If they refuse to by citing his disrespect, then no respect will ensue.

The question is when the Democrats and other Trump-haters will take the initiative to remain respectful in order to respectfully petition Trump to express himself respectfully as well.

Quote:
Threats of impeachment are based on the fact that the president committed crimes. They're not based on petulance.

I disagree. I think there are times when people are out to get other people and they look for crimes as an excuse to do so.

If the same crimes were committed by a Democrat, they would ignore it and/or sweep it under the rug out of fear of losing political ground.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Jul, 2019 06:13 pm
@livinglava,
1. I believe that there should be laws against people doing things to hurt the environment.

2. I agree with you that actions have consequences. Freedom means that I get to choose my actions and accept the consequences. No one else can make these decisions for me. I make them for myself.

3. The God of the Bible wasn't really big on human rights. He responded to a democracy movement in Numbers 16 by burning people alive. There is no evidence that God was ever a big fan of free speech.

4. Your claim that my fundamental rights come from God is irrelevant. I have the same rights whether God exists or not. It is a meaningless point... not worth arguing.

InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Jul, 2019 10:34 pm
@livinglava,
livinglava wrote:

InfraBlue wrote:

livinglava wrote:
...we are supposed to simultaneously respect and honor but also differ and express dissent in a respectful way; not attack, insult, threaten to impeach, and otherwise behave like rebellious children plotting to become mutineers.

By whose example are you defining "respect," Trumps? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.


Trump is going to keep using disrespectful language until his opponents become respectful. If they refuse to by citing his disrespect, then no respect will ensue.


Trump is going to keep being disrespectful, regardless. That's who he is.

livinglava wrote:
InfraBlue wrote:
Threats of impeachment are based on the fact that the president committed crimes. They're not based on petulance.

I disagree. I think there are times when people are out to get other people and they look for crimes as an excuse to do so.


These are not those times.

livinglava wrote:
If the same crimes were committed by a Democrat, they would ignore it and/or sweep it under the rug out of fear of losing political ground.


The Republicans didn't ignore those crimes, e.g. Clinton's impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Jul, 2019 01:56 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

1. I believe that there should be laws against people doing things to hurt the environment.

Ok, but that ignores what I said about self-regulation through liberty, which is that IF for whatever reason it is impossible through political processes to effectively solve climate and environmental issues by law, the failure of free people to effectively regulate their own behavior voluntarily will cause the climate/environment to continue deteriorating.

Quote:
2. I agree with you that actions have consequences. Freedom means that I get to choose my actions and accept the consequences. No one else can make these decisions for me. I make them for myself.

People's actions don't affect themselves only. Everyone will be dead by the time future generations are reaping the consequences for actions we are failing to reform currently, just as they always have since the beginning of time.

Quote:
3. The God of the Bible wasn't really big on human rights. He responded to a democracy movement in Numbers 16 by burning people alive. There is no evidence that God was ever a big fan of free speech.

Don't argue about God here. What you're talking about has nothing to do with this thread. The word, "God," is like the word, "universe." If you jump into every discussion about 'the universe' by giving your spin on why the universe is evil and terrible, it just derails whatever is actually being discussed.

Quote:
4. Your claim that my fundamental rights come from God is irrelevant. I have the same rights whether God exists or not. It is a meaningless point... not worth arguing.

It just means that they are not created artificially by any human authority. That is all it means.

livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Jul, 2019 02:03 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

Trump is going to keep being disrespectful, regardless. That's who he is.

It's ultimately not about Trump. It's about people choosing how they want to behave without their choice being in reference to Donald Trump, or anyone else for that matter.

Quote:

These are not those times.

It's so blatantly obvious that there's a huge anti-Trump movement that has been persisting relentlessly since before he was even elected. It amazes me how people can just go on denying it while continuing to participate in it.

Quote:

The Republicans didn't ignore those crimes, e.g. Clinton's impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.

I said if a Democrat committed the same or similar crimes to the ones they are accusing Trump of, they would ignore it rather than risk losing power for their party/faction.

My point is that they're not honestly upset about crime but merely use criminalization as a strategic tactic against their enemies. They forgive their friends.
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Jul, 2019 02:31 pm
@livinglava,
livinglava wrote:
It's ultimately not about Trump. It's about people choosing how they want to behave without their choice being in reference to Donald Trump, or anyone else for that matter.

Your claim that this discourse of yours is a generality is belied by the fact that this disrespect you're arguing against is wholly applicable to Trump, whose disrespect started long before he assumed the presidency. It's disingenuous to claim that he's merely responding in kind. Trump lowered the bar in regard to respectfulness.

livinglava wrote:
It's so blatantly obvious that there's a huge anti-Trump movement that has been persisting relentlessly since before he was even elected. It amazes me how people can just go on denying it while continuing to participate in it.


There's a huge relentlessly persistent anti-Trump movement because of his past criminality that he's gotten away with so far only because he's the sitting president.

There were huge anti-Clinton and anti-Obama movements as well. The latter one fanned by Trump himself who questioned Obama's citizenship.

livinglava wrote:
My point is that they're not honestly upset about crime but merely use criminalization as a strategic tactic against their enemies. They forgive their friends.


That's what politicians do. Look at the green light the Republicans are giving Trump.

You're being politically selective as to whom your directing your outrage at, despite your claim of "generality."
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Jul, 2019 01:42 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

Your claim that this discourse of yours is a generality is belied by the fact that this disrespect you're arguing against is wholly applicable to Trump, whose disrespect started long before he assumed the presidency. It's disingenuous to claim that he's merely responding in kind. Trump lowered the bar in regard to respectfulness.

You're still focusing on Trump. Have you ever had to deal with people who always point the finger at others instead of taking responsibility for their own choices/behavior. That's what you and many other people do with regard to Trump.

I started to respond to the rest of your post, but then I realize you're just hijacking the thread topic to go on and on about Trump, etc.

If you don't want to discuss the thread topic, you don't have to post.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Jul, 2019 01:52 pm
@livinglava,
I am making two claims here...

1) Different people will have different ideas about what is the proper way to live life.

2) Freedom means that I alone get to decide how I will live my life (with the understanding that we as a society creates laws with consequences for when I don't follow them).

Do you disagree with either of these principles?
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Jul, 2019 02:07 pm
@livinglava,
You're the one not coming clean about your agenda which is to defend Trump and his disrespectfullnes. Own your subterfuge.
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jul, 2019 07:17 am
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

You're the one not coming clean about your agenda which is to defend Trump and his disrespectfullnes. Own your subterfuge.

There are plenty of threads to focus on Trump. Don't make this one of them, please.
0 Replies
 
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jul, 2019 07:27 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I am making two claims here...

1) Different people will have different ideas about what is the proper way to live life.

2) Freedom means that I alone get to decide how I will live my life (with the understanding that we as a society creates laws with consequences for when I don't follow them).

Do you disagree with either of these principles?

#1: of course people have different genealogies of thought/cultural development and experiences that lead them to think differently. That doesn't mean they are necessarily right in what they think or believe, though.

#2: Liberty is a subtle refinement of the concept of unbridled freedom. It involves the recognition that if everyone did whatever they want without taking responsibility to govern their own actions, problems would ensue. Liberty is an extremely optimistic notion that people can live in a relative vacuum of governance because they will live in a way that won't cause problems that invite the will the govern them.

It is like when children tell their parents it's ok to leave them unsupervised and then they really behave themselves, instead of trying to get away with something bad and hiding it, covering it up, etc.

Do I think there is any reason to arbitrarily and totally accept anyone's freedom to do whatever they please? No, of course not. That would mean eliminating all laws and allowing anyone to bully anyone else for anything they wanted to.

In a world where bullies bully others unchecked, there is no freedom because everyone is being coerced by threat of violence from all the bullies.

Don't you see how things are more complicated than simply accepting total freedom for all?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jul, 2019 03:08 pm
@livinglava,
No... what you are saying doesn't make sense to me. Let's go back to our favorite topic.

I like to have sex. In my estimation having sex is pleasurable enough to compensate for the risks. Some people make a different value judgement.

I have had several partners in the past few years. I have enjoyed myself fully. I haven't made anyone pregnant or contracted any disease. I have recently been tested just to be a responsible partner.

Liberty means being able to make that value judgement based on your own values. If you want to be celibate... that is your choice. If you want to have a monogamous marriage... that is another choice. If you want to be single and sleep around, that is also a perfectly good choice.

Being responsible means I understand and accept the risks for anything I do... be it having sex with a new partner, or driving a car, or taking a trip.

People live full, healthy and happy lives making any of these choices. We choose the lifestyle that provide the most meaning to us according to our own values. That is what liberty means.
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jul, 2019 04:31 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

No... what you are saying doesn't make sense to me. Let's go back to our favorite topic.

This is far from my favorite topic. I discuss it to reach out to people who may be in the dark about the benefits of abstinence, but I don't like having people debate me because they feel the need to defend their hedonism, such as you are doing here and now.

Quote:
Liberty means being able to make that value judgement based on your own values. If you want to be celibate... that is your choice. If you want to have a monogamous marriage... that is another choice. If you want to be single and sleep around, that is also a perfectly good choice.

To put it in terms of this sexual freedom issue you are raising, liberty is the idea that people can regulate their own sexuality more effectively than external authority/government can.

It's when people fail to regulate their sexuality responsibly that the government starts getting involved. Look at #metoo, for example, and all the other rapes, etc. that show people often fail at sexual self-governance.

Quote:
Being responsible means I understand and accept the risks for anything I do... be it having sex with a new partner, or driving a car, or taking a trip.

But you understand that risk implies that harm can happen. When it does happen, you realize it will be your fault for having taken the risk, right?

Quote:
People live full, healthy and happy lives making any of these choices. We choose the lifestyle that provide the most meaning to us according to our own values. That is what liberty means.

No, liberty doesn't validate 'the unbridled will,' as Learned Hand describes it. Liberty is the principle that people can govern themselves better than they can be governed.

It is a principle premised on the notion that "all are created equal" to the most effective kings/queens/judges/etc. It is also the premise for the jury system, which holds that regular people have the capacity to discern truth and apply justice fairly, not just judges.

Liberty is not the freedom to whitewash the harmful effects of actions to justify the actions. That's just something people do because they are willing to risk consequences to do and get things they want. Liberty is the idea that people are wise enough to avoid the right risks and take the ones whose benefit outweighs the danger.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jul, 2019 04:48 pm
@livinglava,
I am trying to see the points you are making. I had trouble parsing the ideas in your post.

- I am a hedonist. I don't feel the need to defend it although I do feel that hedonism is a perfectly reasonable way to view life.

- I agree with you that I have the ability to regulate my own sexuality better than government or anyone else. I do just that.

- I agree with you that the government should get involved in cases of rape or sexual harassment. I don't believe the government should be involved in regulating consensual sex.

- I agree with you that I have to take responsibility for any risk I accept. This is true when I have sex. This is also true when I get behind the wheel of a car.

- I don't really understand the last part. Every person has responsibility for their own actions. Some people like down hill skiing. Some people like to drive fast. Some people like to sky dive. Some people like to pick apples. Some people like to have sex.

I personally think that living your life to "avoid risk" is unreasonable. Life is meant to be lived, and avoid risks means you won't travel, or dance or go sledding or eat sushi.

Liberty means that you get to make these decisions for yourself. So I won't judge. But that certainly isn't the way I choose to live my life.
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jul, 2019 06:33 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

- I agree with you that I have the ability to regulate my own sexuality better than government or anyone else. I do just that.

So you get the basic premise of liberty, then. But now can you also see that there is another kind of freedom that doesn't live up to the self-governance ideal assumed in liberty?

There are some people who can be left alone in a bank vault and never steal a penny, even if they are 100% they could get away with it. Such people are a testament to the ideal of liberty.

Then there are other people who see freedom from governance as an opportunity to get away with things they know are wrong/bad/harmful.

Many of those people don't just seek opportunities to get away with wrong/bad/harm, but they also generate their own forms of moral reasoning that aren't truly oriented toward achieving the highest moral standards they can come up with, but rather they are oriented toward rationalizing things they want to get away with.

These are subtle differences in the way freedom is (ab)used, but can you see that in one case, the premise of liberty is honored, while in the other it is betrayed?

You may say that different people can have different philosophies of morality, religions, denominations, etc. and the freedom of religion was meant exactly to honor the unique relationship each individual/church as with God/Truth, but the assumption is that people will use their freedom for good and not evil; so it's a difficult thing in modern times that so many people have come to abuse freedom as providing them an opportunity to shirk moral self-realization instead of pursuing it.

I'm sure there were always such shirkers, but somehow the founding fathers expected them to be born again when the constitution enshrined their liberty to govern themselves by their own highest standards.

Quote:
- I agree with you that the government should get involved in cases of rape or sexual harassment. I don't believe the government should be involved in regulating consensual sex.

In democracy, different people with different POVs deliberate their differences in an attempt to come up with laws and policies that satisfy everyone's conscience and sense of justice.

You can't expect that everyone will agree with your views on consensual sex any more than anyone could expect you to agree with their views on some other issue.

Quote:
- I agree with you that I have to take responsibility for any risk I accept. This is true when I have sex. This is also true when I get behind the wheel of a car.

What do you think it means to "take responsibility?" When you drive, there's a risk you will damage property and you will take responsibility for any property you damage by fixing or replacing it. Now, many things are assumed in legitimating the view that risk-taking is responsible if you're willing to fix/compensate damages.

E.g. what if someone says they don't mind paying extra for insurance so they can text while driving? What about paying extra to drink and drive? Where do you draw the line on what level of risk people can take by taking responsibility for harm they cause?

Quote:
- I don't really understand the last part. Every person has responsibility for their own actions. Some people like down hill skiing. Some people like to drive fast. Some people like to sky dive. Some people like to pick apples. Some people like to have sex.

Not exactly. Some people truly put in their best effort to figuring out what they should and shouldn't do to be the best person they can be. If they discover that they are doing something that they should stop doing to become a better person, they make the sacrifice even if it is difficult and they aren't successful right away. Other people don't want to make such sacrifices, so they just rationalize continuing to do things and/or they avoid reflecting on whether they should stop for some reason.

Quote:
I personally think that living your life to "avoid risk" is unreasonable. Life is meant to be lived, and avoid risks means you won't travel, or dance or go sledding or eat sushi.

Surely there are some risks you consider too great, even though you might really enjoy partaking in the activity.

Quote:
Liberty means that you get to make these decisions for yourself. So I won't judge. But that certainly isn't the way I choose to live my life.

No, liberty is the ideal that people will be as good at governing themselves as any good government would be in steering them right.

As long as people are honoring this ideal of liberty in their personal lives, the government is supposed to allow them to govern themselves. The government is even supposed to avoid intervening when intervention is warranted, in order to give people a chance to self-correct.

Absolute autonomy is not something that liberty can protect, however, because there is simply the possibility of people failing at liberty, i.e. failing at taking adequate responsibility for their actions. The function of democracy is to establish laws/policies for when and how to intervene in cases where people are failing to govern themselves adequately.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Jul, 2019 01:28 am
@livinglava,
- I do not accept that liberty comes with any obligations. If I have rights, then I have rights without any strings attached. Once you start making my rights conditional on how I behave, they are no longer rights. What you seem to be suggesting is a form of extortion... "you are free to do as you want as long as you do what I say."

- I do accept that living in society comes with obligations. These obligations come with how I am expected to live with the people around me. Of course the nature of these obligations differ from society to society... and even from person to person (someone who is a father has different expectations than a single college student).

I think you are confusing the two.
 

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