Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Making This a Truly “New” Year

According to our calendars, our way of measuring time, one year ends and another begins. This is always a propitious occasion on which to pause in order to evaluate and reflect on what lies behind us in life, so as to weigh our present and calculate and foresee our future, both as individuals and as a community.

It is also a time of celebration: We celebrate the life we leave behind. We celebrate everything that we are and everything that we have in the present. But above all, we celebrate our fondest aspirations for the human race as a whole.

Each year arrives with its own novelties and surprises at an individual, family, social, national and worldwide level.

In the case of those of us living in the United States of America, New Year 2008 involves a presidential campaign and election. We are not unaware of the fact that the results of this political race will have a marked influence not only at a local and domestic level, but also on an international and worldwide plane.

The coming electoral process is characterized by a degree of political and social erosion that is unparalleled in the recent history of this Nation. The presidential campaign has begun early and will be long. And it is a campaign that – misguided and mishandled like so many others in so many other places on earth – could well undermine politics and the political process, social values and the common good, democracy and public service, and may end up exhausting the voters already overwhelmed by the millions upon millions of dollars squandered on deceitful, pernicious advertising and on the kind of degrading and defamatory advertising that only serves to distort reality.

Despite all of this, and without ignoring the major problems currently facing the United States and the grave institutional and economic crisis in which it finds itself, and without forgetting the institutional and economic crises that the rest of the community of Nations is facing, and remaining fully conscious of the fact that the country we inhabit is the most influential Nation on earth, we cannot elude the historical, political and social responsibility of asking ourselves – on the eve of yet another New Year – what our deepest and fondest aspirations are and which among them are the most urgent and advisable for ourselves and for the future of mankind as a whole.

There is an urgent need, then, to take part in the public debate, and for these elections to be active, aware, discerning, reasoned, reasonable, democratic and responsible. Participation should be free from political intrigue, demagoguery, falsehoods and the skewed vision of vested interests and should champion a constructive attitude at the service of public welfare and for the good of everyone.

The Hispanic Community, as a growing presence and in ever greater numbers in this Nation, can and should break with the traditional mindset that, up to the present, has balanced and shared out the workings of politics between left and right, between conservatives and liberals, between the blue and the red, and between Democrats and Republicans. The Hispanic Community has, here and now, a political responsibility to participate, in order to suggest, lead, demand, reinvent, innovate on, promote and choose political alternatives that are different from and better than the present ones. Within the current situation and under current circumstances, the Hispanic Community of this Nation has the urgent, unavoidable and inalienable opportunity to make a difference.

Through the political participation of the Hispanic Community, it is time to clarify and bring to a close the shameful process of immigration policies by which political manipulators and pettifogging shysters have played with the public and made a mockery of the hopes and just claims of millions of people. It is time to end the humiliating and ignoble situation in which millions of our migrant brothers and sisters live without proper papers in this Nation and beyond our borders as well.

Decades after the apparent end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the overthrow of dictators and despotic political systems that are today a shameful stain on the annals of the history of civilization, we find ourselves shamed once more as spectators of war, as observers of hostility on the US-Mexican border, of the construction of new physical walls and walls too in the hearts of men, of persecutions, exclusions and marginalization, of the exploitation of individuals and whole peoples, of racism and discrimination fostered by the Social Communications Media, and of so very many other forms of injustice that impoverish the human spirit.

Those of us who root our lives in our faith in a Semitic and biblical mentality, know that it is within the meantime of the afterlife, in the here and now of historical space and time, that the pages of our calendars (kronos) inexorably turn and our days pass, and in which comes the time for the action, intervention and salvation of Almighty God in the history of Man (kayros). That it is in this time (kronos) that we build the Kingdom of Heaven among us (kayros) by doing His will.

The end of one year and the start of another provide a propitious opportunity for us – through the political participation of the Hispanic Community – to tear down the walls and myths erected against Hispanic migration, and for us to demand the noble place – past and present – that we deserve in the building of this Nation’s future. Only then shall we truly have a prosperous and blessed 2008!

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