In France, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted in 1789 as the expression of the ideals of the French Revolution, states in its first article: “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” The declaration defines these natural rights as “liberty, property, security, and resistance against oppression,” and says that liberty “consists of doing anything which does not harm others.”
Thirteen years earlier, in its Declaration of Independence, the United States set out certain “self-evident” truths: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The right to govern stemmed “from the consent of the governed.” Over the ensuing 15 years, these ideas were enshrined in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Both France and the United States, Cohen argues, see themselves as "an idea, a model of some kind for the rest of the world." Cohen calls this an "immodest but tenacious notion," and says that "no other countries make such claims for the universality of their virtue (emphasis added)."
But "how" will we do it? That is what we need to figure out. We need to try, and keep trying, until we succeed. We can't quit until we do. It is our obligation, individually and collectively, to "make it so."
And remember this: