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To state the obvious, a fundamental change is happening in America. 

The meaning of our nation is being tested in a way not seen in over 100 years. Who is a true American? Who is our system designed to benefit?

Our Constitution is the most remarkable document, as is the system of governance it sets up. It’s a brilliant document of laws, unique in the world. Many true democracies use it as a model and foundation of government. It is a blueprint for a strong democracy, flexible enough to adapt to our evolving society. 

The concept of freedom, of justice and of inclusion must work for all of us, or it works for none of us. It is the meaning of democracy, and the shining promise of the American Dream. 

America was born and preserved in chaos, in protest, in bloody revolution and an even-bloodier Civil War. It has been maintained by the courage and sacrifice of countless brave Americans throughout our history.

Progress is not a smooth process. It moves in jerks and spasms, reflected in the conflicts and fears of today. 

We must be resilient enough to hold to the important conservative values that have formed a solid foundation — a bedrock of our beliefs — while also adopting the progressive, often messy, process that propels us forward to a better and brighter future. 

Our nation has often been referred to as a “melting pot” of races, ideals and cultures, as though we exist in a chemical reaction of some sort. You don’t hear much of that anymore. 

The truth is, we are really a (sometimes) loose federation of these dynamics. To suggest a pure and harmonious blending denies the dignity of diversity and cultural ideals that have developed through the years.

Science tells us that many elements can only blend with the introduction of a catalyst. The catalyst of humanity is respect. Once removed, these elements revert to their component parts, and conflict can ensue. 

All Americans, and all peoples, regardless of their ideology, position, race or culture, deserve respect. 

None of us can walk in another’s shoes, but we can all respect the paths we’ve all taken.

We must seem a puzzle to other nations, promoting unity and freedom, while seeming to isolate into conflicting camps of opinion and ideology. This juxtaposition has gained us both admonishment and wonder that is surely unique in modern governance. 

Over the past decade, our differences have magnified into isolated incidents of anger and hate that are hard to define. 

Extremism can create enemies. Dialogue and respect seem to be in short supply. It’s important to reflect on the words of my personal hero and a remarkable human being, Abraham Lincoln, who said in his first inaugural address:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what leadership sounds like. 

— Mancinik is a fifth-generation Floridian and a native of DeLand. He has been an active Realtor for more than 40 years.

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