LAVISHING IN THE PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY
By: ADENOWO USAMAH OLALEKAN, Esq.
Thomas Jefferson was a role model of many. He was third American president (1801-1809), highly revered statesman and politician, a farmer, one of the leaders of the 19th century American Revolution, a founding father of the western modern democracy, and a pioneer scholar of his time who advocated for change in the western civilization. He did this by reawakening an existing principle, Democracy.
At the time, the world was ignorant of this concept. Empires and kingdoms were more prominent and only a few nations existed. It was not that the principle of democracy had not been previously practised. In fact, the Greeks were the first to practise it. Afterwards, the Islamic nation at its climax had developed its own distinct principle of democracy. Jefferson merely brought it into limelight once more by advocating an inalienable principle, equality alongside democracy.
His approach, however, is more than alluring for a treatise. He postulated the fact that “all men are created equal”. This statement of his was made in his ‘Declaration of independence’ adopted on 4th July, 1776. After that, a wide array of politicians and reckonable figures utilised the statement in speeches. People had equal rights to do and otherwise. Everyone had a free will or may be freedom whether as a citizen or a member of the high-class society. In other words, he advocated humanism- the leadership of humans by humans and for humans. All divine elements were ejected with utmost promptness giving room for secularist humanism.
Sadly, it was difficult for people to get the message in the statement. Or, they simply created an understanding of it that suited them. Jefferson did not expatiate what he meant beyond stating it in the Declaration. The predominant challenge of the American state at that time as regards the citizenry was slavery and it needed amendment. The other which the Americans did not see as a problem was racism. They realised this only years afterwards. The heavy statement and the ugly trends aged unutilised with the same people. It started from Jefferson himself.
The gaffer was not in any way a direct epitome of his stance. This made him fish food to his critics. Though he hated slavery, he had one of the largest slave possessions in America at that time. He was regarded as a ‘father of slaves’ due to his extreme kindness to them. However, as a man within capacity to change things, he did not do away with slavery, though, slavery with kindness is not in any way comparable to freedom in poverty. People became more confused as his position grew more unclear. Some regarded him a hypocrite while others thought him a blabbermouth. Now, this ‘hero’ would never get a chance to prove his sincerity
However, people like Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln ensured that the principle further developed, though, like Jefferson, their own conceptions were not satisfactory. Lincoln restricted the scope of the concept, narrowing it down to class. His view of equality was that “all men are created equal”- as regards an inalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness alone. This implied that there were other circumstances such as economy and politics, where people had unequal rights. Or, as people grew up, the strength of their respective claims to equality should narrow down to what is available to their social class.
As for Franklin, he explained the concept further and created an unprecedented dimension of it. He stood for equality in all ramifications and circumstances for all of mankind. He was an epitome of his stand too. However, the fact that his society remained a sharp contrast questions his uncompassionate and unrealistic methodology. Even if he was helpless regarding the situation, he could still have propagated the concept in a way not inconsistent with reality. Those who were clearly enlightened at the time would have entertained countless questions as regards the essence of such unrealistic propagation.
Subsequently, the world saw equality as a right which only accrues to a person when he competes with his contemporary or equal (in status). When up against a superior, no equality exists. Automatically, our leaders owe us no accountability, though they may be discreet about it. Perhaps, this was what prompted George Orwell in his famous work, ‘Animal Farm’ to say that- “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”.
Nigeria practices this to a fault. ‘Our’ so-called Constitution (even though neither masses nor their legitimate representatives enacted it) provided for immunity of certain political office holders. Perhaps, this circumstance is rooted in and inalienable from a comparison with the existence of a superior five nations in the U.N as regards ‘veto power’. The five nations can have effective influence on decisions and activities of all so-called sovereign member nations. What a deception?
If three extremes of a concept had been pervaded by distinguished and legendary personalities, and their recommendations still seem to have solved little or no problems, an insight into a middle course should be considered worthy of consideration, for a lifelong solution.
Therefore, Equality should be viewed as a situation where all citizens have the right to be treated fairly in all matters, except those situations which are against their nature. We sure cannot give a woman’s right to a man. It should be on the basis of constructive unity and solidarity. A sincere sense of camaraderie would never breed unhealthy competition among a set of people for such insincerity in competitions leads to inequality.
The future presents various benefits for humanity if equality is perceived this way. Equality should exist as regards all aspects. The only difference should be relative circumstances accruing to each individual. Status, sex, religion and so on should not be a window for inequality. Afterwards, benefits of good balance in legislations could be reaped. No immunity clause or prerogative should be present in any sincere system which advocates equality. Equality should also not be restricted to the social aspects. There should be equality in welfare, economy and justice.
Lawyer Usamah Adenowo Esq
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