PUBLIC SERVICE ESSAY
American Democracy, Part I – Remembering
“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe.”
Joseph W. Ferrara, EdD
Members of our human family are different in fundamental distinctions of gender, body type, age, race, religion and nationality; dissimilar also in geographic, political, educational, economic and cultural or group orientations. Currently, our planet has over six billion people living on seven continents within one hundred and fifty countries with over thirty thousand religions, speaking no less than two hundred languages and like earth’s soil, having skins of red, yellow, black, brown and white with all shades in between. There are wide variations in habits of living and methods of labor, travel and communication. As our planet shrinks and its human population expands, these differences are becoming increasingly conflictual with lethal consequences. What matters, however, is that we all strongly disagree deeply over what we believe about human civil rights, freedom, equal opportunity and justice. These beliefs in turn act as inevitable direction-setters for our moods, attitudes and choices, which in turn set in motion desirable or undesirable consequences that we each have to cope with and which affects our loved ones and us all for future generations.
Long ago our national founders declared that “we are all created equal”, i.e., we are all of equal human worth and dignity with equal civil rights regardless of any individual differences. Equality in freedom to be different and worthy of unconditional consideration and respect distinguishes free society from all other forms of human association. Our social heritage includes the struggles to be free from any earthly king, human priesthood or religion, political party influence and foreign control. Our federal “Constitution” is based upon what we call freedom’s inalienable rights, and one of our most nationally revered, noble and sacred document that attends it is called our “Bill of Rights”.
If, we are willing to learn from our “infamous” heritage of Sunday, 7:55 A.M., December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii as we have been willing to be victimized by it, we would see that freedom is never, ever free. On every page of American history is moving evidence. The price has never been as high as it has been during our own very immediate past. We must never, ever forget but always remember that on Tuesday, 8:46 A.M., September 11, 2001, in the United States of America a line was drawn from New York City to Washington D.C. thru Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The globe is now and forevermore divided into those who advocate American democracy and those who oppose it. Free society begins by affirming individual differences and by safeguarding each person’s right to think, feel, read, write, vote and worship or not as their conscience dictates. If, when we speak of equality, we mean this basic freedom of equal protection, representation, justice and opportunity for all, then we are free to be equal. But, if what we have in mind is a vision of restrictive, exclusive regulatory sameness, we are fostering an idea of a totally exclusionary character. A free, victorious and noble society actualizes inclusive equality through diversity, and its unity is created and asserted by unity among its diversity.
We may differ in our beliefs or opinions, but all honorable citizens everywhere now know that there are madmen and women wanting to tell us what to think, feel, read, say and do who have to be stopped regardless of our cost. We all were inspired when former President John F. Kennedy, in his 1960 inaugural address, committed us to continue the payments, no matter how great. “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us ill or well”, he said, “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty”. Freedom, justice and equal opportunity are expensive and more precious than life itself. Remember – protective freedom, peace and due process have been achieved at the price of heroic commitment, sacrifice and our inalienable rights are founded upon our equal duties and responsibilities.