“to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them,...”
This is a hard one for those of us that believe in American Exceptionalism. I think it is best expressed by a concept that is grounded in the Bible and has become what we call the “golden rule.”
(Matthew 7:12 KJV) Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
This is one of those concepts that you find in many different cultures and philosophies. It is central the Christian faith and to the American experiment.
We also have a unique concept of love. It is also a demand.
(Leviticus 19:18 KJV) Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.Some point out that you can’t love others if you have a sick sense of self. It is possible to make too much of that but it has a grain of truth.
One of the ideas that was at the root of the Great Awakening, and thus central to the thinking of the Founding Fathers, was the idea that all were equal before God. The teaching of the Great Awakening was based on the idea that we were all equal in Christ. This finds its highest expression in the writing of Paul.
(Galatians 3:28 KJV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
This did not mean that there were no kings or that men were not the head of the family but it had a sense of equality that brought the kings down and lifted the slaves up.
This is the American sense of “equal.”
To be continued....
homo unius libri