The recent increase of ideological polarization in the United States keeps the most elementary principles of social coexistence on the edge of a precipice. The only possible way out of the tense political and social climate is to return to the fundamental principle of respect for human dignity.
242 years ago, the United States declared independence based on the inalienable right of everyone to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. When contextualizing the present challenges, it is essential to remember that the "all" of the first Republic in the American continent fell short in origin. Time proved that expanding that "all", by recognizing rights and diversity, nurtured the nation.
The Constitution, approved more than a decade after the Declaration of Independence, applied in its origin to the free people, under a slave-driving regime. There were exceptions for the so-called "Indians", to the detriment of the original inhabitants of those lands. It was not until 15 years later that the Bill of Rights provided not to adopt or prohibit any religion, and not to restrict freedom of expression or association. And it established the foundations for fair prosecution and trial processes.
In 1865, the Constitution was amended again to prohibit slavery. Five years later, the Fifteenth Amendment established the right to vote for former slaves. That right, however, was only for men. It was in 1920 when, finally, women could vote.
The commitment that founded the Republic has new dimensions in the current American period. Decisive issues are today in controversy. And the internal peace and evolution of a democratic reference is at stake.
New Supreme Court appointment is imminent. The Senate is challenged to overcome the political and ethical tangle to confirm the new justice just when the FBI investigates the President. Whoever arrives at the Supreme Court will carry the aura of extreme conservatism.
The governing party is taking steps backwards, proclaiming division, marginalization and hatred.
In response, narratives take on worrisome nuances. Inflammatory rhetoric that spreads out of the resistance speech to federal administration policies seems to be just like what they are critizing.
Burdened by anger, it intends to combat fire with more fire. Officials are expelled from public places and it seems like there is even more is being instigated.
However, temperance still prevails. During the weekend, thousands of citizens marched peacefully to condemn the federal immigration policy. Throughout the nation, the legitimate claim to reunify separated immigrant families on the border with Mexico resonated.
Also, Parkland survivors, in Florida, are debating with the force of reason and citizen power. On behalf of the victims of hundreds of massacres -until Monday they were 157 in 2018 - they lead an intense education campaign and electoral participation to save lives. They dialogue with those who cling to the firearms culture. They build consistency in respecting those who disagree. They are looking for a middle ground to reach a solution. They know that, to win, everyone will have to give something up.
This is how, more than two centuries later, that aspiration embodied in the federal Constitution is still alive. Its beating means hope in this convulsive period of the American history. Regardless of ideological nuances, most citizens share the desire for a society of justice, welfare and freedom. And time has shown that, for that society to be strong, everyone must have a place.
Let this Fourth of July serve to persevere in the hope that common sense, exercised in peace, will save the US social debate from the precipice. Let's do the same here, in Puerto Rico, so that respect for human dignity comes first in any controversy. Let’s recognize in each interaction that here and there, as in the whole world, each person is protected by the right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
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