Updated: Mar 28
We won’t change our social climate to a climate of justice without changing our language. Words matter.
If you question that, what would you think of changing the name of the Golden State Warriors to the Golden State Troupers (troupers, not troopers)? Can we de-militarize and de-racialize our professional sports and see them as plays? That’s probably a small change compared to thinking about ourselves as “born” rather than “created.” Let’s start with the Declaration of Independence.
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.
Compare that with the beginning of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights:
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Is there an “inherent dignity” that must be respected and that belongs to “all members of the human family/” Would not this “inherent dignity” be a “birth right?” Humans have dignity, in other words, because they are living beings.
We are living beings who live through participation in the biosphere: through breathing. The air circulates in and out of our bodies and as long as that happens, we live our lives. The cry, “I can’t breathe” exposes our connection to our earthly habitat. I think we become fully human with the birth right to be treated with respect when our caretakers help us begin to breath.
Choosing to be born rather than created has a couple of advantages. It fits with our experience. We are born of a women. We are born into a family and rely on that family for our existence. We experience the worthiness of babies when we make eye contact with them. Even though we are born into very different social worlds, we are all equal when we take our first breath.
The idea that we are created, of course, assumes a Creator, and almost without exception, this Creator has national preferences. Whether we choose our birth or our creation as the basis of equality, of course, cannot erase our vast inequalities. On the other hand, it would be hard to argue that some newborns have less worth than others? The admirable charities and philanthropists who provide aid to children throughout the world testify to our basic equality.
I think that seeing our dignity grounded in our being human would help us move toward a climate of justice because it bypasses religious conflicts and wars, it recognizes our connection to the planet, it honors our parents and caregivers, and it gives each one of us our due. We don’t need a Creator to have dignity, it comes with our birth. That’s why we celebrate “Birth day” rather than “Creation Day.”