“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Based on these noble and sublime principles, a group of dedicated and devoted Christians, representatives of their respective communities, founded and declared a new nation – one and indivisible under God. Those who have followed and come after them have tried and struggled to live by these principles even to the extent of sometimes giving up their lives.

Towering majestically over the New York harbor, Lady Liberty proclaims:
          “Give me your tired, your poor,
           Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
           The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
           Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
           I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

In fits and starts, sometimes with might and main, sometimes with hesitance and doubts, the US has always lived by the principles on which it was founded. It has welcomed the poor, the wretched and the homeless to give them an opportunity and freedom to pursue their own life and happiness. I have personally witnessed this in the many Filipinos I know who have achieved the American Dream and who would have otherwise lived lives of destitution and penury back in the home country.

Having been founded by white Christians, this country could have chosen to allow only white Christians in, as some countries do to preserve their ethnic purity. But no nation has been more welcoming of all colors and religions, specially of those people who are persecuted or discriminated against in their countries of origin precisely because of their color or religion.

Today, the US remains to be the vanguard of the fight against exclusions and discrimination. The country leads the fight for the elimination of bias and barriers based on gender, abilities and even language. Even those most critical of her would chose to settle within her shore when they fell and seek refuge.

Many are the criticisms and denunciations against the US. But it remains to be a force for good in the world. I remember growing up in Angeles. All the good things I remember fondly from my childhood (chocolate bars, comics, fragrant bath soap, hotdog sandwiches, fried chicken) would usually come from the neighboring Clark Air Base. Whenever disaster struck our little town, be it a big fire or a terrible typhoon, the Americans from Clark were always the first to help. And their help was always very generous.

One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

And as he sat at dinner in the house,
many tax-collectors and sinners came
and were sitting with him and his disciples.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples,
‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’
But when he heard this, he said,
‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
Matthew 9:9–13

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