Today, I turn 25. A quarter of a century has passed and 25 years of history have been created and enshrined in the narrative of the mankind. What can we do with 25 years? With 25 more?
For me, the answer is straightforward: continue to learn and apply what I’ve learned to do good.
Considering the political climate of the 21st century, this means learning as much as we can not only to gain skills and build with others, but to create magnificent things and protect our communities from harm.
Trump may be trying to corrode the fourth pillar of democracy by de-legitimizing the media, but the long-term trends of a slow decay of our democracy trace back before him.
For instance, did you know that Immigration and Naturalization services used to be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice?
That Customs and Border Protection was under the control of the U.S. Congress?
Soon after the Department of Homeland Security was established in November 2002 (during President George W Bush’s term), both of these offices were removed from the control of the two other branches of government and placed under the Executive branch’s direct authority.
Now, Trump is able to fully command and control the budget of these two institutions without having to seek Congressional approval.
The reason why our Constitution is so highly regarded and still relevant today is because our forefathers constantly debated what kind of country we wanted to be. Who are we? What do we stand for? How can we learn from the past to build a better future for our nation? How can we enshrine our values into laws that are fair, equitable, and just? How can we uplift present and future generations from one threshold to the next?
Our policies and institutions were experiments based on ideas that were constantly tested, discussed and amended to meet the needs of the times, not just in the houses of Congress but also within the public sphere.
America’s history is from perfect, coated in the blood of natives, interference in other nations, and a racial struggle for true equality, but in its ideal is the story of a nation that grew from a people’s desire to self-govern into an industrial model with a moral bent and firm belief in the universal value of human rights, democracy and rule of law for all people.
The state of our democracy starts and ends with us. We the People are the pillars of our nation, and our firm understanding and belief in this is what makes us Americans.
But in the short span of our lives, nothing should ever be taken for granted. Rights were fought for and granted when people tasted what it was like to not have them. Peace and stability were structurally installed after significant loss of life and unearthly destruction.
The world quickly changes and so nothing is ever secure or permanent, including progress and peace. We must continue to fight the darkness of the human spirit that exists within ourselves and the current systems that shape our lives.
This fight is a daily fight, one between competing forces constantly hoping to assert their dominance and vision onto others.
Depression too is a form of darkness that we must work hard to fight off, as once it takes root, it prevents us from taking action and realizing our potential.
I once heard it described as “anger turned inward,” and all I can say is that we must do our best to fight it, fight the urge to escape into another world, another reality, when all we have in this one.
It’s easy to complain about the state of the world and then go about one’s life without doing anything about it. Educating oneself, engaging in critical thinking and taking action is not. And those are the things that make history. See you in 25 years.