The Enlightenment took place in the late 17th- and 18th-century and it has been regarded as a turning point in the intellectual history of the Western culture. It created the principles of religious tolerance, the ideas of science, and the thoughts of human rights and equal liberties. Although this movement happened many years ago, it is still prevalent in how many things are structured or run in today’s modern time. This essay will argue how and why the Enlightenment is so important into today’s Western society. It will also argue some things that can still be questioned in today’s society.
Many of the Enlightenment thinkers, especially Locke, believed that all are created equal and start with a clean slate. This showed his ideas of everybodies right to their natural liberties: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. However, in today’s society, this is not fully true. If the United States’ Declaration of Independence is read with a simple idea of societal history, this is proven. The quotation “All men are created equal,” is an example of hypocrisy. The writers did not really mean this, because slaves existed and women held no rights either as they were controlled by the men in their lives. What the writers of the Declaration meant was that “All white, land-owning, men are created equal.” America’s ideas of equality started out as a lie.
Although, many societal changes have been accomplished with women and minorities gaining rights, the idea of equality in the Western society is still slightly skewed. It can be said that women are still getting paid lower than a man doing the same job as they are. There is also a lot of prejudice and discrimination towards minorities and immigrants, especially those of Spanish descent. This can be seen politically with new laws and socially. In the twenty-first century the biggest injustice and violation of rights is that of same-sex marriage. Only sixteen countries in the world have approved same-sex marriage. In the United States, which has the regions deciding, only seventeen states have approved. Marriage brings people happiness, thus not allowing a specific group of people to not marry, goes against the ideas of natural liberties and the Pursuit of Happiness.
A big question that was raised in the Enlightenment was what is freedom and who gets it. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote about this, “Man is born free...and everywhere he is shackled,” (19). He knew that every man, no matter race or class, has the right to be free. However, he also knew that no man was actually free. The government controlled everything and everybody. During the Enlightenment period, many nations were under the rule of royals and did not have representation of everybody. The Enlightenment’s idea of freedom was the idea of being free from a King or Queen without proper and equal representation.
However, in the world today, the idea of freedom is still questioned. We Americans have the Constitution of the United States which...