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I started drafting this editorial on July 4th while sitting in my hotel room in Versailles, France. Both the date and location have great significance in our modern history, which motivated my choice for the theme of the article.
The date of July 4th coincides with the commemoration of Independence Day in the United States. It refers to the day back in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues, was adopted. The location, next to the Palace of Versailles, which housed the Kings of France until the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, reminded me of a second historical document approved that year by the French Constituent Assembly and known as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This document was also drafted with input from Thomas Jefferson. Both documents ascertained the rights of men and served as drivers for civil liberties, although with some challenges along the way.
Today, we experience a continuous stream of news, stereotypes, and opinions about immigrants and foreigners, including veiled arguments hinting at the superiority of one race or ethnicity over another. As scientists, we value diversity in all its forms and know that science and education should help reduce inequities due to racial, ethnic, gender, religious, or economic biases.
I am the son of immigrants. My parents immigrated in the 1950s to the faraway, beautiful, and generous land of Brazil where I was born. Later in life, I followed in their footsteps and immigrated to the United States, the most creative and inventive land on Earth, a land of opportunities, one that was described as the “shining city on the hill” welcoming hard-working people from all corners of Earth with its majestic Statue of Liberty. The statue itself was a gift from the people of France to the American people in 1886; a second historical link between the two countries besides the declarations mentioned previously. One of the main reasons for the prominence of the United States on the World stage today is that it embra - ced diversity, pushed for equality, and opened its doors to the best and brightest who helped propel a wave of innovation and economic growth.