150 years ago this country embroiled itself in a deadly and destructive war. Central to that conflict was the belief that it is acceptable to profit from the forced labor of others.
It is not.
Slavery is wrong, not because one race subjugates another race, but because one individual thinks he owns the life of another individual.
He does not.
We no longer believe in chattel slavery, where one man can own another. But the belief still exists that we, as a community, have a moral claim on the productive labor of our neighbor.
We do not.
Each individual life is sacred. Each one of us is owner of his own life, his own labor, his own property, and only his own. Some believe you can compromise on one part of this trilogy without destroying the whole.
You can not.
Well meaning, thoughtful people confuse majority rule with individual rights. They are not the same. Without the absolute barrier to action drawn by inalienable rights, a majority is merely a mob.
Our country does need a change. We need to rededicate ourselves to the ideals upon which this country was founded: the individual rights of life, liberty and property. We need to apply them with rigorous consistency in every situation, to every individual. That is the meaning of equality before the law.
Freedom based on individual rights is the only path to peace and prosperity. I am saddened that to believe this is to be the new minority.
But this is still the freest country in the world. We are a people that can learn from our mistakes, and act to correct them. We can voice our disagreements and non-violently work to change each other's minds. We can live together, work side by side, and pursue our dreams and ideals, even though we disagree.
Yes, we can.