When we think of equality, we usually think about human rights and how everyone is entitled to them regardless of their nationality, religion, sexuality, or ethnicity. Every person on this planet deserves to benefit from the standards of human rights set by international law. However, for some states, human rights and equality play a special role in their history, society, and norms - states like the United States of America. The USA has a long history of inequality, slavery, and mistreatment of people from different minorities, although the country is home to an amalgam of different cultures and ethnicities.
Equal in Declaration
The Declaration of Independence is often quoted for its words, ‘all men are created equal,’ which has made the concept of equality a big part of American society. Despite not fitting the criteria of equality for all the people in the United States of America, equality is still considered to be one of the most important norms of this society. However, many people would be shocked to discover that equality mentioned in the Declaration of Independence is different from the definition of equality promoted by modern-day egalitarians!
A Different Perspective
Today, equality is often invoked when there is a denial of qualities among individuals and qualitative tendencies between similar individuals. That is not all; oftentimes, even acknowledgment of a unique ability, aptitude, character, and accomplishments is seen as an attack on equality. Some discussions take place surrounding the ideology of ‘equality of outcome’ that highlights the inequality of results in terms of services, wealth, and treatment by private individuals. And since everyone stands on the equality pedestal, there is no room for inequality of outcome.
John Locke's Explanation
When it comes to the authors of "Declaration of Independence," they have a different idea of what equality is all about. English political philosopher John Locke explains the reference to equality stems from the justification for American people kicking out the British government, justifying the right of anyone to throw off a tyrannical government. Locke mentioned in his writings that all humans are born with the ‘same advantages of nature and use of the same faculties.’ However, what he did not comment on was the level of the capabilities or the faculties. Locke derived the rights stating the inviolability of an individual's person and property.
However, from the theory of legitimate government, John Locke explained the rights of the people and how they could disobey and throw off any government that controls their lives, liberties, and estates of the people or enables absolute power over them, becoming illegitimate and tyrannical.
In summary, the definition of equality differs from what the authors of the Declaration of Independence had intended and from what is considered equality today. It is to be noted that the American founders had connections with slavery and definitely cannot be considered leftist egalitarians.