So far in college, I’ve learned it is impossible to view U.S. politics from only one perspective. Like the range of students at a liberal arts college, the combinations of viewpoints are endless. Notions of representation and freedoms become jumbled in rhetoric about identity politics in this era of globalization.
We grapple daily with our differing interests, occupations and political affiliations. These three, together, are derived from our self-imposed rules and values.
When former prime minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, spoke eloquently at Fall Convocation in a speech titled “Where Do We Go from Here?” he underlined the need to remake arguments over values. As an optimist, the British statesman upholds traditions of decency and respect. His speech was a reminder of the lack of unequivocal government response in tackling recent atrocities such as the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Politics aside, Cameron conveyed that we cannot equate evil with good and that extremists have no place in a meritocracy.
The United States and Great Britain share a unique history. Like siblings, they fought as children, and needed each other as adults. Even though the two are still incredibly powerful, I urge that we recognize the diversity of democracies that make up our world.
We may fight over religious differences and economic interests, but we can still coexist peacefully. Cameron called for “moderate rational reasonable discourse” in tackling global issues such as infectious diseases and climate change. My personal opinions align closely with his, but I wish he defined what he meant by “our values.”
The notion of value is enshrined in British and U.S. history, though value has not been accessible to everyone. Historically, our country’s values have been based on equality.
The Declaration of Independence begins with “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” This statement set a precedent for governing our country, but it has not always been preserved in the eyes of the law: The Three-fifths Compromise to the U.S. constitution in 1787, for example, allowed states to count every five slaves as three free persons for both representation and taxation. This undermined the premise of the values of the declaration.
Though it served as an inspiration for The Declaration of Independence, The Magna Carta maintains the line, “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice,” which undermined the role of the British in restricting freedoms through colonization. Both countries have made strident efforts to reverse earlier models of freedom to all people, but there are still residual effects up to today, as we continue to fight for civil liberties extended to all segments of the U.S. population.
In this century, I argue we should condemn crimes against humanity, and avoid generating crimes for humanity. Despite that our nation has made values for the common good of all, there are still inactions that impede the progress of minority populations. To reiterate points made in Cameron’s speech, we need governing institutions that will openly condemn extremist attacks against diversity, global exchange of ideas and aid to our neighboring countries. We should be allowed to have and act upon our own values that align with the rules of our democracy.
As a community that praises global and civic engagement, we should promote open forums for discussion about our values. If we are to work together, we need to define commonalities of values to strengthen our commitment to making this world a better place to live in. In spite of our different opinions and beliefs, there is hope that our democracies — extending from 10 Downing Street to the White House — can promote standards of responsibility and care for all people.