Why, in the 21st century, are we still stressing mutual respect for each other? The reason, in my opinion, is that we’ve forgotten the root of what unites all of us: humanity.
During a recent naturalization ceremony on NBC’s TODAY show, former President George W. Bush told the new American citizens, “We are all God’s children, every life is precious, and people need to be treated with respect.”
Why was this statement made? Why, in the 21st century, are we still stressing mutual respect for each other? The reason, in my opinion, is that we’ve forgotten the root of what unites all of us: humanity.
Just mentioning immigration, women’s rights, or Black lives matter can lead to criticism and political concerns. Yet these issues are about core American values: human rights and opportunity for all. At the Bush Institute, we support policies to advance economic empowerment for women and girls and fair and earned pathways to citizenship to undocumented immigrants because people are at the forefront of everything we do.
I imagine conversations about these issues would be different if we viewed them as those representing a desire for equitable solutions more than anything. Equity is not only the best option for America, it should be the standard.
When each of us is allowed opportunities to thrive, we all benefit. If women’s economic participation fully equaled men’s, our country could see an almost 20% gain to GDP, or $4.3 trillion, according to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute. Closing the racial equity gap could bring economic growth of 0.5% a year over the next few decades, resulting in a $8 trillion addition to U.S. GDP by 2050.
Economic gains are promising, but there is another, and arguably more important reason, why this goal is vital. Despite our diverse differences and experiences, we are united in a common, shared humanity. Each of us is American. None of us is better than the other.
My name is Michael Bailey. I’m a White male, born, raised, and living in Texas who likes to run, cycle, and listen to opera performances. These qualities partly comprise my uniqueness, but, at the end of the day, I’m human, just like you.
If we take a step back from the politics, the divisiveness, and the worries, and instead focus on our shared, common humanity, we can then see more clearly the values of mutual respect and unity.
It seems hard, but it’s very simple at the end of the day. When each of us is given opportunities to be the best version of ourselves within the differences that make us all unique, everyone thrives.
Perhaps my vision is too idealistic and unachievable, but I like to think that’s not the case. Rather, I see equality, grounded in equity, as the only way to achieve the true American dream. I envision a world in which girls and women have the same opportunities to achieve the same as men, where Black people are not disproportionately affected by society, and where immigrants can come to our country and fully utilize the work ethics they so strongly bring for a better life.
I’m no more American than my fellow human, and neither are you. As our country continues to diversify, we can show the world as never before what it looks like when we value diversity and respect our differences. The Bush Institute will continue to keep people at the heart of all our work, because the true beauty of our country lies within the citizens that make it so great. When we view each other as fellow humans and fellow Americans, unity is displayed, and that unity is worth celebrating.