Is it false to claim as suggested by The Oracle from Utopia in his comment on my article (see http://www.mmawere.com/article/261) that "we are all created equal?" He makes the argument that no two men are actually equal and, therefore, what was intended by the framers of the US Constitution was to ensure that all men be treated as equal under the law.
I do not believe that any rational human being would hold a view different from the one that informed the declaration of independence that the fact that human beings are all created equal is self evident and would ordinarily not require any clarification.
When human life is put into focus it is evident that its true meaning has to be located in the actions of human beings who after all have dominion of God’s other creations.
Human beings have a mind and intellect that informs their emotions and choices they make. A human body can only act if the mind allows it to and its actions are a consequence of the choices that are made by us as human beings.
In between birth and death, are a series of experiences that evidences one’s impact on the world. At birth, we are all helpless but what makes us human is that we have a mind and intellect that allows us to navigate through the numerous choices that we have to make to advance our own interests.
We have to make a distinction between intellect and intelligence as it is self evident that in life, human beings can create a bank of knowledge that is acquired from external agents, for example, through formal education and this is what has been classified as intelligence.
Any society that seeks to advance its interests through the instrumentation of human beings has to acknowledge and respect the cardinal principle that the human mind is emotional and can easily be influenced by past events and the future. What makes some individuals, for example, drug addicts, is that the intellect resident in such individual allows the mind to go over the limit on what is considered normal.
Human beings can and do make choices. If the foundational principles are wrong, it would be difficult for a society to attract progressive minds and naturally human beings will gravitate towards conducive and welcoming environments.
Even a person who may appear to be mentally challenged can scale the heights of human progress and be someone only in societies that accept that there is nothing inevitable in human life.
The relationship between human beings and the societies that they choose to live in has to be guided by certain fundamental beliefs, values and principles. Yes, in God we trust but in human beings you can never place your trust not only because the human mind is difficult to predict but we all are afraid to die notwithstanding the fact that we know we have to die one day and, therefore, we live each day in fear of the inevitable.
The doctrine of equality has to be located in the construction of human civilisation. Generation after generation, we follow the same pattern and there is nothing human civilization has done to stop death but each generation feels that it has better understanding of life and yet the reality is that life is just but an aggregation of human experiences.
To the extent that it is self evident that no human being has been able to conquer death, we can safely say that death is the ultimate human equalizer. Even powerful men still have to die and if this is self evident then it makes sense for us to pause and reflect on what kind of society we want to create.
Powerful people who become indispensable to society can be counter productive to social, economic and political progress and change. No human being can and should never be allowed to be indispensable to any society as such a development is tantamount to accepting that some individuals are more equal than others.
Any leader has to originate from the followers and it is self evident that no individual has ever had more than one stomach, two eyes, two ears, one brain etc and, therefore, the equality doctrine has to constitute a fundamental departure point that differentiates between democratic and undemocratic constitutional orders.
Under a democratic order, it must be accepted that a leader is a consequence of the choices that people make. Such a leader cannot and should not be expected to be a super human being just because other people have expressed confidence in his face as the right face to represent their interests.
Yes leaders have to lead by example and yet the very process that produces them is never perfect.
The right to life has to be one of the consequential rights that emanates from the equality doctrine. Each individual is endowed with certain inalienable rights that cannot be negotiated by other men/women but only by the creator.
The pursuit of happiness and what happiness means has to be informed by the mind and intellect of each individual.
The success of any nation has to begin at the individual level. The key success factors have necessarily to include consistency, mutuality and concentration. It is not uncharacteristic for human beings to be sidetracked by their past and forget to focus on the present. The present requires focus and concentration and the future really belongs to those who make decisions today and use their energies and resources to accomplish defined goals.
What is tragic in the African story is that the majority of the people who are chosen to lead have excellent analytical tools to deal with the past but are not able to rise to the occasion and address the challenges of the living.
We all want Africa to offer promise to its citizens and yet if we do not embrace each and every person who makes the choice to be African then it will be impossible to change the circumstances of the continent.
Many so-called African rejects, for example, have gone to distinguish themselves in other countries which goes a long to demonstrating that you can never count anyone out believing that they are useless.
An Africa that works must guarantee equal rights throughout the continent and every place and entity that calls itself African, to every women and men. It must be accepted that sex inequality is about power differences as well as other distinctions based on sex. The decolonisation struggle was informed by a value system that rejected the classification of human beings on account of race and colour.
An Africa that works for all has to accept that all persons should and must have equal rights and privileges without discrimination on account of sex, race, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnicity, national origin, colour and indigence.
It is common cause that sex is a biological characteristic and not a social construction and one cannot discuss rationally gender issues without reference to stereotypes according to biological sex identification.
Race has dominated many African conversations not only because of our heritage of colonialism but because it denotes certain, common and distinguishing physical characteristics constituting a class of people.
One has to accept that in the social construction of human life, race does not exist and death after all equalises all human differences. Further classes such as ethnicity, national origin and colour have been added as if to suggest that the doctrine of equality is not applicable to certain classes than others when it is common cause that each and every human being regardless of, for example, these attributes has and should have the same relationship with the world he/she lives in and must be allowed to make their mark without let or hindrance.
We are equal not just before the law but before the creator. Human life is perishable and what makes human beings special is that they can make choices and invest in the future through their actions. Everything that we see on earth was made for the benefit of the living and as such the experiences of human beings represent the universe of life as we know it.
We can shape the future and such a future cannot and should never reside in the minds of the few. Through working together, Africans can do more for themselves and in doing so for the continent.
The only power that people who do not have power is the power to organise and it is important that we pause to reflect on what makes nations great. The more organised people are the more they can do extraordinary things.
One hand cannot clap but two hands can and it should be self evident that humanity is better served if people see value in working together not in silos but as part of a coordinated and managed human chain.
We all have a value in us and have a point in our lives that must be celebrated. Those who choose to serve others have a better claim on Africa’s heritage than those who believe that intellect is the same as intelligence for the latter is just a bank of knowledge but choices made are a consequence of intellect.
If we can increase our intellect rather than intelligence, I have no doubt that the choices that we make will show in the civilization that we build for the future.
Powerful men are perishable but powerful ideas are enduring and empowering