Superman Stands for Truth, Justice and the American Way. What do You Stand For?
If a fictional character like Superman can be real about pursuing his values, then we should be able to articulate ours and dedicate our selves to realizing them. In times of great confusion, like now, this is vitally important if we want to create our desired vision for our nation and the world.
Irish statesman Edmund Burke was quoted in the late 1700’s that,
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”
We cannot sit idle when we see conditions that must be changed. It is our duty to clearly speak out. In that light, I do believe that our democracy is being challenged today and I feel an urgency to speak up and help those who want to lead our nation into true greatness. The challenge is to do so in a way that is constructive and unifying. This is why to do so as an instrument of peace becomes so important. This is not a do-nothing alternative nor is it a proclamation that one becomes a doormat in the face of fearful and hateful voices. Becoming a channel for peace demands that you stand firmly for justice, freedom and the ethical treatment of all, but your position can only be credible if you have cleared the hatred and anger you hold for those who think differently from your hearts.
I was twenty-five years old when I recited the Pledge of Allegiance at my naturalization ceremony. That was forty years ago. The words meant a lot to me then, but they mean even more to me today.
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The love I have for my adopted country was the reason why I chose a career in government. It has been the privilege of my life to spend over thirty-seven years helping to shape that more perfect union. It is from this experience that I profess the following opinions.
It is a known fact that the democratic principles behind the founding of our country were considered revolutionary at the time. No other country in the world was founded on the principle that all persons have equal rights. In today’s world, the United States government continues to be every bit the experiment it was considered at its inception and we must stand guard to protect those founding principles as we evolve.
There are three major principles being challenged that deserve our attention. The first is the most fundamental one; human beings are born with inalienable rights. Our Founders believed that all persons have equal rights, and that government is responsible to, and derives its powers from, a free people. This was not just a passing intellectual fad, for they memorialized this belief into The Declaration of Independence, first by summarizing those inalienable rights and then by demanding that a just government ensure that those rights are protected when it exercises all of its powers.
Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, emphasized this in his writings,
“Our principles are founded on the immovable basis of equal right and reason.”
“An equal application of law to every condition of man is fundamental.”
“Of distinction by birth or badge, Americans have no more idea than they have of the mode of existence in the moon or planets. They have heard only that there were such, and know that (distinction by birth or badge) must be wrong.”
Relying on the principle of equal rights clarifies many things. For example, wanting to establish proper border security for our citizens’ protection lies well within the idea of safeguarding and preserving our equal rights. However, banning the entrance of people into our country based on their religion or place of origin goes against this standard.
The second principle that needs to be guarded is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This clause was included to prevent the government from censoring or interfering with the distribution of information and opinions, regardless of the medium or the opinion. This is what we have come to know as freedom of speech and it was meant to protect our right to hold and express any opinion we believe in. It is also behind our freedom of the press. This was forged early on in the minds of our Founders, for they had to communicate incognito from the British authorities that attempted to prohibit the publication and circulation of information of which they did not approve.
Using this principle as our guide, it is easy to see that those government officials who attempt to intimidate and/or silence reporters and news networks are violating this founding standard. Withholding information by censoring government agencies from communicating their message publicly is also a violation of our constitution because it is an attempt to manipulate the citizens at large by keeping them uninformed.
The third principle I want to present is the division of our government into legislative, executive and judicial branches. This was wisely done by our Founders to ensure governmental checks and balances between the branches. By dividing the responsibilities into distinct bodies and then limiting them from exercising the core functions of another, they prevented the concentration of powers in one branch.
Using this founding belief to judge today’s actions, we can see that selecting a Supreme Court Justice, regardless of their judicial perspective, is quite appropriate under our constitution. However, intimidating judges who rule against a preferred opinion is not.
I feel the urgency to bring these points up because it seems like today we are ignoring this bigger picture by becoming distracted with every nuanced position that comes around. While we can disagree on salient points, like the size of government, immigration reform, or stopping terrorism, the fact remains that we must work to find our solutions within the framework outlined by our constitution if we are to remain the country envisioned by our founders. Today, the lines of this vision are being blurred and, therefore, we must stand for its clarity.
Unlike Superman, I have no super powers to rely on. In fact, based on my own genetics, my time is limited. My father, who passed away in his mid seventies, had the early showings of Alzheimer’s. This past Christmas, my mother died of old age and dementia at ninety-two. It is hard to predict by when I will be overtaken by a cloud of unknowing, but its arrival is certain. Therefore, as the legacy I leave for those who follow, I must speak out and act to protect these principles when I believe things are going in a direction that can destroy the good that has progressed in our country for generations. But I must do so as a channel of peace, with clarity and without rancor and bitterness. This begs the questions then,
“What do you stand for? What are you willing to do about it?”
Originally published at Guillermo Vidal.