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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Thursday, July 4, 2024: “We hold these truths to be self- evident that all men are created equal

Thursday, July 4, 2024: “We hold these truths to be self- evident that all men are created equal




I would like to discuss some of the problems that we confront in the world today, and some of the problems that we confront in our own nation by using as a subject The American Dream. I choose this subject because America is essentially a dream. It is a dream of a land where men of all races, of all nationalities, and of all creeds, can live together as brothers. The substance of the dream is expressed in these sublime words, “We hold these truths to be self- evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


Now, we notice in the very beginning that at the center of this dream is an amazing universalism. It does not say some men, but it says all men. It does not say all white men, but it says all men, which includes black men. It does not say all Gentiles, but it says all men, which includes Jews. It does not say all Protestants, but it says all men, which includes Catholics. That is something else that we notice in this American Dream, which is one of the things that distinguishes our form of government with some of the other totalitarian systems.

 

It says that each individual has certain inherent rights that are neither derived from or conferred by the state. They are gifts from the hands of the almighty God. Very seldom, if ever, in the history of the world has a socio-political document expressed in such profound, eloquent, and unequivocal language, the dignity and the worth of human personality. While the American Dream reminds us that every man is a heir of a legacy of worthfullness. But ever since the Founding Fathers of our nation dreamed this dream, America has been something of a schizophrenic personality.


On the one hand, we have proudly professed the noble principles of democracy. On the other hand, we have sadly practiced the very antithesis of those principles. Indeed, slavery and segregation have been strange paradoxes in a nation founded on the principle that all men are created equal. But now more than ever before, America is challenged to realize its noble dream, for the shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of an anemic democracy, And the price that the United States must pay for the continued exploitation and oppression of the Negro and other minority groups, is the price of its own destruction. There are approximately 2 billion 700 million people in the world, and the vast majority of these people live in Asia and Africa. For years most of these people have been dominated politically, exploited economically, segregated, and humiliated by some foreign power. Today they are gaining that independence. More than 1 billion 600 million of the former of 1 billion, 900 million colonial subjects have their independence today, and they are saying in no uncertain terms that racism and colonialism must go.

 



So in a real sense our hour is late, and the clock of destiny is ticking out, and we must act now before it is too late. It is trite but urgently true that if America is to remain a first-class nation, she can no longer have second-class citizens. I must rush on to say that we must not seek to solve this problem merely to meet the Communist challenge. We must not seek to do it merely to appeal to Asian and African peoples. In the final analysis, racial discrimination must be uprooted from our society because it is morally wrong. It must be done because segregation stands against all of the noble precepts of our Judeo-Christian heritage.


There are words that we use in every academic discipline, and pretty soon, these words become a part of the technical nomenclature to these particular disciplines. Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word than psychology, it is a word maladjusted. Maladjusted. And certainly we all want to live the well adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic personalities.


And I say to you this evening that there are some things in our social order to which I’m proud to be maladjusted. I call upon men of goodwill all over the nation to be maladjusted until the good society is a reality. I never intend to adjust myself to the evils of segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism, and the self defeating effects of physical violence.


And I think now it has come for men all over the nation and all over the world be maladjusted to all of these things. For it may well be that the salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted. And so if you will allow the preacher in me to come out now, let us be maladjusted.

 

As maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echoed across the centuries, “Let justice run down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”


As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation could not exist half slave and half free.

 

As maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery, could cry out in words lifted to cosmic proportions, “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.”

 



As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth who could say, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Pray for them that spitefully use you.” And I believe that the world is in desperate need of such maladjustment. And with such maladjustment we would be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.


And as we struggle to realize the American dream, let us realize that we do not struggle alone. Even though there are the difficult days ahead, even though before the victory’s won, somebody else will have to get scarred up, somebody else will to have to go to jail, maybe someone will have to face physical death. For the victories won, some will be misunderstood, called bad names, be dismissed as dangerous rabble-rousers and agitators. Even in the midst of that, the struggle must go on. Knowing that the victory can be won because the odds of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

 

And I am convinced that that is something in this universe, which justifies Carlyle in saying, “No lie can live forever.” There is something in the very court of the cosmos which justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying “Truth, cursed to earth, will rise again.” There is something in this universe which justifies James Russell Lowell, in saying, “Truth, forever on the scaffold, wrong, forever on the throne.” Yet that scaffold sways the future. And so with this faith in the future, we will be able to adjourn the counsels of the staff rise from the fatigue of darkness, to the buoyancy of hope. And we will be able bring into being this new society and realize the American dream.

 

This will be the day when all of the chosen black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last.”

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