I believe in equality.
My views have evolved over time, but they began in childhood, with Christianity. “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” I believed it then and I still do. And I believe that from a religious or spiritual point of view, we are all His creation and thus His children, every one of us — all races, creeds, economic statuses, all religions, no exceptions.
I believe we should treat each other like we are all children of God, because we are, as a metaphysical reality, and failing to do so is a sin. It is flat-out wrong, spiritually, ethically and morally counter to the metaphysical reality, subject to proper repudiation and condemnation by society and judgment by God.
The Declaration of Independence employs and affirms the metaphysical reality in this statement, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We may be created equal, but the conditions of our births — our bodies, our families, our neighborhoods, our social statuses — are not equal. Whether this is the luck of the draw, God’s will, karma or something else, no one really knows. And yet, we are all children of the same God no matter what name we use to refer to the Creator, and even though (or perhaps because) our life situations are different, we should lend a helping hand when asked, and in general treat each other as equal as we can because in our spiritual potential, our divine potential, we are all equal.
Now, this doesn’t mean that anything goes. We have laws and they need to be enforced. And they can be enforced without treating people inhumanely. Indeed, we can treat lawbreakers decently, humanely and with the implicit respect and universal love that all people deserve.
That might seem like a contradiction, but it is not. Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
Jesus is talking about the universal love that we should give to all like the sun shining on the evil and the good. Now, we don’t have to “like” everyone, that is different. That is about personal love, and we have the right to choose who we love personally. However, with universal love, it is not a choice but a duty; a requirement for the spiritual life and the degree to which you fulfill this responsibility, and the ease with which you do it, is a measure of your soul.
The 15th-century Indian mystic Kabir referred to the same principle this way, “Do what you do with another person, but never put them out of your heart.”
And the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi summarized it perfectly in his answer to the question, “How are we to treat others?”
“There are no others.”
Bob Funkhouser is a retired IT professional and writer who lives near Glorieta.