Former President Jimmy Carter has a message for a nation in flux: Citizens “should use this moment to remember the values that have defined us as a great nation.”
The Georgia Democrat wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial that Americans should take celebrate Human Rights Day – which is celebrated on Saturday – by remembering that the nation’s ideals “still inspire hope among the oppressed and give us pride in being Americans.”
We must be vigilant to preserve our foundational values both in our policies at home and in our conduct abroad. We must always seek to protect the rights of racial and religious minorities. We must guarantee women equal access to leadership and protection under the law, self-determination, and earning power.
We must embrace everyone’s right to engage in debate and to criticize political leaders, and the right of the press to report and investigate public affairs. We must ensure that government serves all the people and not any individual or private interest; we must guard against the unnecessary or excessive use of American military might abroad and expect the police who protect our citizens at home to use force as a last resort. We must reverse environmental degradation that threatens our grandchildren’s prospects on this planet.
In our democracy, the only title higher and more powerful than that of president is the title of citizen. It is every citizen’s right and duty to help shape the future legacy of our nation. We must never abandon our principles; the U.S. must always stand for human rights both within our borders and beyond.