Last week, I took my oldest son to New York City to celebrate his high school graduation. Together, we stood at the base of the Statue of Liberty – soaking in the words that embodied our nation’s ethos 240 years ago at its founding: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

Think about what those words mean for a moment. In this beautiful poem, the United States of America is literally calling out to the rest of the world, stating clearly that we welcome those who have been downtrodden, those in war torn lands, those who wish for a better life.

We live in a land that provides opportunity, a land that honors liberty, a land that understands freedoms. America leads the world in innovation. We celebrate the bravery, the vision, the hope, and the belief in what is possible when we dare to dream.

We must, however, see America with eyes wide open. We are at a critical point in our history. The paths we embark on depending on November’s outcome could not be more divergent. Despite the framework for freedom that was enshrined in the Constitution – in today’s political landscape we have witnessed a terrifying blend of fear and intolerance diminish the power of who we are and what we can do as a nation. Public figures like Donald Trump play to our most base emotions, inspiring a dangerous nativism that closes doors rather than opening them.

Around the globe we have seen a similar brand of xenophobia. The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union echoed across the Atlantic Ocean and mirrored some in our country’s desires to shut out the rest of the world.

My plea to you is this: reject this divisive mentality. We must appeal to our better angels, understanding that the very things that make our country great are the things we are acting fearful of today. The United States has been, and must continue to be, a place where dreams are allowed to blossom, where diversity flourishes, and where striving to create a better world is our most basic ambition.

For 240 years we have rejected fear in favor of unbridled optimism. For 240 years we have welcomed the world’s tired, poor, and huddled masses. When our founders created a government of by, and for the people – it was the most revolutionary system of democracy the world had ever seen. We can once again revolutionize how our country is run by committing ourselves to be a beacon of inclusiveness, justice, and opportunity for all.

Unity must be the mantra of the day. Differences in policies or party affiliation need to be set aside for the sake of progress, and the common good of all human kind must be our guiding principle.