As a child, I stood with my classmates and pledged my allegiance on a daily basis. The symbolic words to our country’s flag ring critical to me now than ever before. The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States was written in 1892 after the Civil War by Captain George Thatcher Balch, A Union Army Officer. It was revised and adopted by Congress in 1942, with finalization of its current version in 1954. The goal was to instill unifying principles among children by disseminating within classrooms across the country.
Our ability to succeed as a country and a human race is dependent on our collective ability to unify. When one voice is quieted, when one life is minimized, when one individual’s contributions are diminished - all of society suffers. The “us and them” mentality breeds separation, hatred, fear, bias, competition and a lose-lose outcome. Reducing individual freedoms limits collective justice.
Our country has been faced with injustice since its inception. Our progress is dependent upon continuously eliminating barriers that discriminate against individuals of any background or belief. Behind every successful, healthy and happy human is another successful, healthy and happy human. We are social creatures and need nurturing and support from one another. When one thrives, another thrives, and when one falls, so do we all. Respect not given is respect lost.
For the human race to flourish as ONE HUMAN FAMILY, as they say in Key West, we must view all as one- focus on our similarities and celebrate our differences (gender, race, religion and political affiliation, etc.). Reframing others as members of one world, one team and one family, reduces fear, breaks down barriers and builds bridges of hope.
We each do our part, when we acknowledge our personal judgments, step out of our comfort zone, and respect and do onto others as we would have others respect and do onto us. Liberty and Justice for All is possible when we step out of our own shoes and try one another’s - even if they don’t appear to fit comfortably. As Abraham Lincoln wisely stated, “I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better.”
Catherine Florio Pipas, MD, MPH