[Statement on the National Artist Awards]
The head of a country or state who is truly enlightened provides the populace with the exercise of freedom not just for the government’s considerations but, most important, freedom as every individual’s right and privilege. To be aware of freedom as the individual’s possession requires the respect for his personality, for his considered actions, for his beliefs and decisions. A favorite American saying goes this way: “Your freedom ends where my nose begins;” this saying stresses how personal this requirement for freedom goes, with the specific anatomy as the limit that one’s freedom can go.
What is meant by a country’s head being enlightened? By this enlightenment is meant the awareness that at the very primary root of freedom is the human presence, humanity that demands respect – because without this respect one might as well be dealing with the most fearful and undomesticated of animals.
A well-run government’s decisions are based of course on respect for rules and regulations,and the respect always is rooted in the awareness of the acknowledged group’s right and well-considered performance of its duty.
Dr. Edith L. Tiempo
National Artist for Literature
August 6, 2009