The American way of life.

Today, while heading to the U.S. Congress I had another life-changing moment! I took a selfie to capture the very moment I read this letter from the Govt. The opening from the letter was: “Beneficiary”, followed by "Section: an Indiv w/Adv Deg or Exceptional Ability in the National Interest”. Wow… what a feeling! I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy . . . And so flattered and so completely entire.

When I came to this country I had absolutely nothing, no family, no health, it was a pretty dark and stressful period for me. I could hardly have anticipated the satisfactory flawless feeling that would follow my recovery. America, you’ve entirely altered my life and given a new channel for blessedness to flow in.

This moment calls for reflection, for remembering the legacy etched by the Founding Fathers. How incredibly lucky we are that people, generations ago, came together and declared a new nation with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement; and a revolutionary idea, a dream of social order in which anyone who works hard can achieve success and prosperity. It was their altruism that led an uneducated, poverty-stricken grocery clerk to study some law books he found in the bottom of a barrel of household plunder that he had bought for fifty cents. You have probably heard of this grocery clerk. His name was Lincoln.

For millions of people around the world, America has always been a synonym of hope and self-determination. This is the story of many of us; one of them is my own. When I was growing up, America was my hero. I was taught very directly (by my grandmother) what it means to be an American, “If a train crashes, Americans will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, Americans will send emergency supplies all over the world”, through her, I absorbed a love for this country and an appreciation of its institutions. Later, I witnessed firsthand the open, giving hearts of Americans when doctors declared me terminally ill and gave me three months to live. The most salient example occurred once I wasn’t going to get my chemotherapy because I couldn't get the money out of my country to pay for it. It was a mother who had lost her son this morning in that battle, and she decided to pay for my treatment. She did it anonymously, I never got the chance to meet her, nor to say thank you. This incredible act of generosity and compassion has remained permanently etched in my soul.

This is the true America: a tapestry woven with unparalleled generosity, unwavering compassion, and the moral courage to do what's right, regardless of the odds. To those who claim America is fading, I say this: look around! The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. I see it in Pablo, the kid at my school who stays up late to complete his lesson because we told them they will come to compete at NASA. I see it in the hundreds of scientists flocking from all corners of the globe, drawn by the promise of groundbreaking discoveries. The United States is also a haven for those who strive to make the world a better place, evidenced by the 413 Nobel Prize Laureates who call this nation home (followed by the UK with 138). 

I believe the critical challenge of growing capabilities of artificial intelligence is going to be in distribution rather than production; and these issues change significantly when we consider robotics for industry in space. I believe we have a great (but limited) opportunity during the bootstrapping period while human labor is still needed in the industry. I believe, since we are already spending money in space, and since the existing budgets are adequate, then the most effective use of those funds should be pursued, with both environmental and economic benefits in addressing global-scale challenges on Earth, while ensuring representation and participation of a broader segment of humanity into the process. That, by the way, is the right thing to do. 

For the past few years, we have been providing the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. That was an important start, because it has provided experiences to refine and improve our methods, and of creating innovative technologies. However, this isn’t all we need in this new economy, that's why I’m working to build a global coalition, from the highest level of government to local communities, to include more direct pathways to equity, not only because it's the right thing to do, but also, because that's the America I know and because that´s a very American thing to do.

Sheyene Gerardi