By The Honorable Raul Yzaguirre, NAA Co-Founder
It is appropriate and, one could say, essential for organizations to periodically reflect on their reason for existing. The fifteenth anniversary of the New America Alliance is a good time for such introspection.
We live in a nation where there is enormous competition for our time, talent and treasure. Given the limitations of our time and resources, we need to make some choices. The wonderful 15th Anniversary Series interviews of our leadership gives us a good perspective on the motivation of some of our outstanding members. If you listen carefully, you will notice a pattern and a commonality in their rationale for being a part of this organization. You notice very clearly a desire to give back to our community.
The membership of the New America Alliance is unique in that it sees beyond its narrow self-interest with the realization that we are “self-actualized” only when our extended family is free from discrimination and limited opportunity. Rather than understanding these goals as a matter of civil rights for solely its own members, the NAA sees a society made up of free and valued individuals where our culture and very existence is treasured as an essential part of America.
As I write these thoughts, I am reminded of a college course in psychology I took a long time ago during an impressionable time in my life. I recall vividly of a theory of human needs proposed by Dr. Abraham Maslow, a common sense explanation of what motivates human beings.
In an escalating pyramid, the more basic needs of food, shelter, sex and sleep form the larger base of the pyramid. As these basic needs are fulfilled, each individual seeks to satisfy ever more sophisticated needs such as safety and security, love and belonging, social acceptance, esteem, achievement, status, prestige and respect.
Though Dr. Maslow opines that self-actualization is a deeply personal peak experience, he describes it as a concern for the welfare of humanity, of a high degree of creativity, of an interest in solving problems as examples of the motivation of folks who are on their way to being in this state of life. He identifies Ghandi, Lincoln, Einstein, Beetwoven and Madre Teresa among the individuals who have attained that lofty status.
To be sure, there is a danger in defining ourselves as unique adherents to this standard. But I maintain that New America Alliance is not a closed society, but a place for those who seek to build a better and more equitable nation. Ours is a high standards union that seeks more members, not an elitist entity that wants to close the doors to new entrants.
To the skeptics and naysayers, it might seem that we are aiming too high. Maybe, but I’d rather aim too high and have to settle for less, than aim too low and then try to reach for higher goals.
New America Alliance was created and continues in the same spirit – building on American Latino success to forge a stronger America. As a group, we aim to achieve the greatest good, and we are gratified with what has been accomplished, regardless that our ultimate goal has yet to be attained. We rest peacefully in the knowledge that the progress we have made together has had an immeasurable impact, and in the confidence that our community and cause will continue to thrive.
To our members and collaborators, I express my deepest gratitude and respect for such invaluable contribution – your passion, your knowledge, your time and your treasure.