Everyone is Equal

In the very first chapter of the Bible, there is a verse that may be the most important verse in the whole Bible, or anywhere. It says that every single human being is created in the image of G-d.

This sounds so simple, right?

And yet, if everyone believed this and looked at all other human beings as equals, this world would be a very different place.

After the horrific massacres in Israel against innocent people by the evil men of Hamas, we have been forced to wonder how anyone can be so evil. Part of the answer is that these barbarians do not see Israelis or Jewish people as human beings.

The great modern Jewish philosopher Martin Bube taught us that we can look at other people as “its” or as “yous.” If we see others as “its”, as things, then they are not people to us, they are not equals. Only if we look at others as “yous”, not “its”, will we care about them and treat them with fairness and kindness.

The Holocaust happened because one set of people thought of another set of people as “its”, and killed them by the millions.

If we’re going to be honest, we must admit that human beings, including Americans, have a terrible history when it comes to seeing the equality of all human beings. Think about the Declaration of Independence, which says: “All men are created equal.”

If you take the word “men” as all human beings, that would be great. But in its time and place, it didn’t mean that. The use of the word men, to the exclusion of women, indicated that women were beyond consideration as worthy of inclusion and they were simply overlooked in any consideration of political rights, any notions of civic equality. These words also should be criticized on grounds of racism. The white men who drafted those words did not believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands ofblack people in their midst. Native Americans were not part of the men who were equal. The historian John Hope Franklin states that “Jefferson didn’t mean it when wrote that all men are created equal. We’ve never meant it. The truth is we’re a bigoted people and always have been.”

Ok, so that was a long time ago. And for some time, I thought we had progressed. It was a struggle, but slowly, too slowly but slowly, America made progress towards full equality for all.

But in case you haven’t been paying attention, there are forces in America that have been trying to push us back.

I know I’m not the brightest bulb, but I cannot understand this. Why should it make any difference in a person’s rights if their skin is a certain shade, or they worship G-d in this way or that, or they identify themselves as this or that? I know I sound stupid or naïve, but I cannot comprehend this. Equal is equal. I have made progress in my own mind and feelings, and I have overcome some of what I realized were my own prejudices, by just repeating to myself: All human beings are created in the image of G-d.

If you believe in G-d, and G-d created us with incredible diversity, creating us with this or that skin color, or thisor that identity, then going against anyone created in that way is going against G-d. So don’t tell me that you believe in G-d if you think that one person is better than another person.

Those who see others as “its” must be fought, on the battlefield, if necessary, on the college campuses where hate is given free rein, in our daily encounters with the people around us. May G-d bless all who understand that all people are equal.

Rabbi Scolnic