Evolution of American thinking of liberty and equity
In America, fairness and freedom represent the primary principles of the country’s legal order and values. Liberty was the first to emerge in American society before being incorporated in the constitution’s preamble (Wilkinson). Also, the American bill of rights currently enjoyed by American citizens is based on liberty rights rather than equality (Wilkinson). The emphasis of liberty in the bill of rights is mainly because of the American Revolution that was mostly concerned with freedom (Wilkinson). Therefore, the rights resulted from the conflict to secure liberty and self-governance (Wilkinson). Next, during the signing of the new constitution in 1787, Benjamin Franklin believed that its composition was not perfect but supported it because it would uplift equality and liberty (Greene and Jack). He led other men into signing the document because it intended to create a republic guided by free principles. Signing the document signaled a historical moment to the Americans because it brought together diverse and scattered people of America together to deliberate on the formation of a new government. The new constitution made people view each other as one by setting aside cultural differences. American Founders envisioned an American society that enjoys equality and liberty to all people. Also, signing the new constitution signaled the declaration of independence of America from its colonial masters. In 1787 the American society was engulfed with inequality, discrimination, and slavery. America was a country where African-Americans endured horrific actions, including slavery and discrimination against women. In this instance, women were not allowed to vote like their male counterparts (Greene and Jack). Native Americans also faced discrimination, as they were denied fundamental rights. During the colonial past in 1607-1776 and the age of the American Revolution in 1774 to 1849, the American society lacked liberty and equality among its citizens.
The Native Americans, African Americans, and women lived under an unjust government that failed to protect their rights. The government, during the time, ruled under the principle of natural justice that was flawed by favoring the influential in society. The marginalized groups fought for about 200 years to have rights equal to those enjoyed by the privileged in the nation (Greene, Jack, and Jack). They argued that American society needed to uphold the ideals of liberty and equity. In this instance, they wished to be viewed as equal members of the community and be able to participate in political systems like other citizens. However, they faced immense challenges from the citizens who clung on the principles of discrimination. The marginalized members of the society had an option to work against the political system by destroying it but instead opted to appeal for changes using the system. Eventually, their wishes were supported by American founders who formulated a constitution that recognized their rights (Greene, Jack, and Jack). The declared law changed the American perspective on liberty and equity by promoting freedom of assembly, free speech, and equal participation of citizens in the American political system. However, in modern society, debate still exists on other pertinent issues that affect the rights and liberties of some of the American citizens. For example, conflicting arguments exist on affirmative action, gay marriages, the role of the government, and economic justice. The debate is primarily centered on differentiating between the natural law and opinions supported by the majority. In this case, the majority of the members of the society might oppose a particular issue, which, in the real sense, is supported by law. Despite the improvement on how liberty and equity are seen in the society disagreement, therefore, exists on some of the pertinent issues.
Entitlement to liberty and the type of freedom or equity desirable
All members of society need to be given equal opportunities by the government to reverse historical injustices. To change some of the discrimination experienced by some of the members of the nation, the government should grant some special privileges to particular groups, including Native Americans, Women, and African Americans (Hill). Next, the United States of America is a diverse country with various communities and cultural practices. Consequently, the state should ensure all citizens enjoy equality and liberty as was enshrined in the constitution by the country’s founders (Scott). All American citizens are consequently entitled to enjoy the benefits that arise from freedom and equity (Hill). Discrimination on who should enjoy liberty should therefore not occur regarding a persons religion, sex, or skin color (Hill). By maintaining equity among all citizens, the country will retain unity by limiting unnecessary fragmentations of narrow perspectives (Scott). However, challenges exist on how to unite the benefits of both the common good of citizens and freedom. Liberty is classified into negative and positive liberty that influence people in varying ways. Firstly, negative liberty refers to independence with no constraints or barriers and obstacles (Berlin). Negative freedom or freedom is ordinarily available to an individual in a negative way. In this instance, negative liberty refers to freedom and privileges associated with a person’s agents (Berlin). Next, a positive right applies to the freedom a person has to act and take control of his or her life and realize their full potential (Berlin). It is therefore essential to understand both types of liberty to decide which one is desirable. In this case, however, real freedom is the most beneficial because it enables a person to perform what is productive. Those who wish to suppress dissidents can, however, misuse this type of liberty. Governments can decide to limit the amount of freedom enjoyed to crush the will of the people.
Why liberty and equality are always good things
Liberty and justice are and will still be beneficial to society because they ensure the protection of marginalized individuals from the majority. The two concepts maintain freedom of expression regarding economic diversity and political opinions. Also, when society provides equity and liberty, its citizens become more creative in their daily operations. Consequently, for any nation to succeed spiritually, economically, and philosophically, it has to promote the virtues of liberty and equity. Firstly, societies that enjoy freedom and equality boost their economic performance (Hayek). Free communities support commercial engagements among entrepreneurs and larger firms. When the market sector provides different choices of commodities, consumers receive products of higher quality at much lower prices. Also, the lack of constant government interference enables the business to perform better because they engage in economic diversification. Next, equality ensures that economies grow better because enterprises base their employment practices on the qualification of individuals rather than their cultural orientations. Secondly, freedom and equality promote stability in the community (Hayek). Lack of marginalization in the country and the ability to demonstrate and voice concerns to the leadership helps reduce frustrations among the citizens (Wilkinson, Richard, and Kate). In this instance, people don’t see the need for trying to destroy the governing structure. People can use the media to communicate their frustrations instead of using force or violence. Therefore, when the government allows society to express itself freely, it promotes stability in the country. Thirdly, liberty, and equity maintain high levels of satisfaction of the citizens of a country (Hayek). For instance, when people feel disgruntled or annoyed about a particular matter, they can express themselves freely without fear of persecution. They can, for example, build websites, write books, write news articles or express their frustration through art. The freedom people enjoy from freely expressing themselves makes them feel contented. In this instance, they have the freedom to use the available means to express themselves.
Next, when a country promotes liberty and equality, its citizens live happy and free lives to the extent that they focus on other essential things. Also, a state that enjoys political autonomy encourages cultural expression among its people (Hayek). Artistic expression and political expression are directly related to the extent that people feel free to express their opinions. They can attain the full potential of their political rights and foster the artistic expression on what they believe. For instance, they will bolster their creative talents when they think that they won’t be arrested for their sculptures, novels, and paintings. Finally, liberty and equality form the foundation of individual transcendence and therefore, will always be considered to be useful (Hayek). Freedom of religion and expression without the fear of government oppression guarantees the citizens freedom of religious expression (Wilkinson, Richard, and Kate). People gain an understanding of the religion they wish to follow when they are free to make their decisions. Consequently, states can only improve personal transcendence of their citizens by protecting liberty. Also, the opinions of every citizen should be tolerated and not condemned.
Significant events related to equity and liberty
Instability in the British colonies followed by American Revolution highlighted the need for a new government running under a new constitution that guaranteed equality and freedom. Benjamin Franklin realized in 1754 that the British colonies had divisions (Young). He hatched a plan under the “Join or Die” slogan to persuade people to unite against the Indians and the French. However, this plan failed to materialize (Young). However, around 1763 and 1776, the majority of the colonists felt overtaxed and ignored in their attempts to raise concerns (Young). The British denied the colonists the liberty to sufficiently express themselves. Religious matters also rose among the colonists increasing their level of dissatisfaction (Young). Also, the British masters became frustrated with the unwillingness of the colonists to pay taxes (Young). In this instance, British citizens contributed higher rates than their American counterparts during the crisis. Britain found it hard to control the Americans because every action taken by Britain resulted in stronger retaliation from the American colonists (Young). The divisions grew more extensive to the degree that the Americans revolted before eventually gaining their freedom (Young). The experiences of the Americans under the British made them want a society that respected the liberties and equality of the citizens. They preferred a culture whereby people could freely express their disagreements with particular issues. Also, the events made the founders of America to recognize the suffering of the minority in American society. American citizens learned from their experiences with the British that people need to be treated equally and with dignity. The events also induced American and British scholars to analyze them to understand the exact course of the revolution.
Ultimately, the declaration of a new constitution changed the American perspective on liberty and equality by promoting freedom of assembly, free speech, and equal participation of citizens in the American political system. However, in modern society, debate still exists on other pertinent issues that affect the rights and liberties of some of the American citizens. Next, the country should ensure all citizens enjoy equality and freedom as was enshrined in the constitution by the country’s founders. All American citizens are consequently entitled to enjoy the benefits that arise from liberty and equity. Liberty is classified into negative and positive right that influence people in varying ways. Firstly, negative liberty refers to freedom with no constraints or barriers and obstacle. On the other hand, the positive right applies to the freedom a person has to act and take control of his or her life and realize their full potential. It is therefore vital to understand both types of liberty to decide which one is desirable. In this case, however, real freedom is the most beneficial because it enables a person to perform what is productive. Those who wish to suppress dissidents can, however, misuse this type of liberty. Liberty and equality are and will always be beneficial to society because they ensure the protection of marginalized individuals from the majority. Lastly. Equality and freedom maintain freedom of expression regarding economic diversity and political opinions. Also, when society ensures equity and independence, its citizens become more creative in their daily operations. Consequently, for any community to succeed spiritually, economically, and philosophically, it has to promote the virtues of liberty and equity.
Berlin, Isaiah. “Two concepts of liberty.” Liberty Reader. Routledge, 2017. 33-57.
Greene, Jack P., and Jack Richon Pole, Eds. A companion to the American Revolution. Vol. 17. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
Hayek, Friedrich August. The constitution of liberty. Routledge, 2014.
Hill, John E. “Justice, Liberty, and Equality: Adam Smith’s Political Economy.” Adam Smith’s Equality and the Pursuit of Happiness. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2016. 21-60.
Scott, Carl Eric. “The five conceptions of American liberty.” National Affairs 20 (2014): 164-183.
Wilkinson, J. Harvie. “The Dimensions of American Constitutional Equality.” Law and Contemporary Problems 55.1 (1992): 235-251.
Wilkinson, Richard, and Kate Pickett. The spirit level: Why greater equality makes societies stronger. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2011.
Young, Alfred Fabian, Ed. The American Revolution. Northern Illinois University Press, 1976.