I genuinely believe we can do better. I believe we must do better. We need to leave a better legacy of decency, civility and respect for future generations. I believe we need to give them our best, and our best must be more than justifying the use of derogatory language based upon cultural or racial relativity or even freedom of speech. If we're going to reverse negative trends among our youth, it's going to begin with us establishing a better model for them of how we treat and speak about others.
Whoopi proposed that we must find a "new way to move forward." I propose that that new way is not new at all, but an old way that has been discarded and forgotten. It is a way that simultaneously addresses equality, respect and decency. It is a way that was promoted by America's Founders and eventually resulted in increased unity and civility across the land. And it is also a way that I devote an entire chapter to in my upcoming book, "Black Belt Patriotism." The chapter's titled "Reclaim the value of human life." Here's a little of what I say in it:
"The Founders believed equality would give legs to freedom. As John Adams said, 'We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions … shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power … we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.'
"The Founders knew that America was not perfect. Slavery, in particular, troubled the consciences of many of them. … Nevertheless, our Founders believed there was something inherent in humanity that called it to a higher purpose. For all the shortcomings of early American society, the remedy was always there -- expressed in the founding documents of our nation. The Declaration of Independence set America's course. Though we have sometimes drifted from its highest principles, all Americans have ever had to do was steer by its compass to acknowledge or rediscover the inherent equality of slaves, women, the poor, Indians, and the unborn. All were -- and are -- children of God, endowed by their creator with 'certain unalienable rights.' …
"The Founders could not immediately abolish slavery. It was too entrenched in the economy of the South, but the Declaration eroded its foundations in a way that made its end inevitable. That 'all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights' is one of the most powerful principles ever enunciated in the history of politics."
And that power can be unleashed again to help us in our day. The sooner we get back to our Founders' words, our country's original calling, the sooner we will start treating one another (red, yellow, black and white) as our Founders' prescribed and the sooner we will get beyond these slanderous debates about language and humanity. It's time to grow up, America -- to move beyond the arguments of yesteryear. You're older than 200 now. It's time to act your age.
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