Najat Belkacem, the first woman to serve as Education Minister of France, was born into poverty in Morocco. Her father, hoping for a better life for his family, immigrated, worked construction, and later brought his family across. The story of movement and new horizons is an old and human story. Our history is one of dreams, journeys, and new beginnings. For some it is a story of inspiration and hope, for others a cautionary tale of fear and loss. Some look forward, some look back.
This is the story that prompted the French, years ago, to send the Statue of Liberty to the USA. To stand as a monument to hope and beacon by an open door. To weather turbulent times and shifting winds and steadfastly proclaim the fundamental value of liberty. To be a beacon for the bright generosity of spirit that offers liberty. Liberty not for the few or the chosen but liberty for all. She was conceived in a time when liberty was not assured for many. She stands as a reminder of our better nature, our hopes for ourselves and our world. A testament to potential and possibility.
This, she whispers across the water, is what can happen when doors, minds, and hearts are open. This land is all of us, no matter where we happened to be born. The human condition is our heritage and liberty our rightful inheritance.
Today, more than ever, our future depends on open hands and open hearts. Today’s child is the one who will solve the problems we cannot. We do not where she is, it doesn’t matter where she is born. What matters is that her mind, his mind, is captured not by narrow ideology but by the dream of a better world and in her hands or his hands we place the tools to do the job, and in their hearts we instill the determination to it for the good of all not the material advancement of some chosen few.
It is our job to put this dream on the front page and in the headlines. The antidote for fear is hope born of stories of light and achievement.