Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Barack Obama's Remarks at Knox College Commencement

Go read the commencement speech delivered by Illinois senator Barack Obama to the 2005 Class of Knox College. His theme that the history of America is one where people rose and came together to sort problems is probably the best answer to the current situation in the nation. Various bloggers have pointed the speech out and commented on it. Carpetbagger observed that "one of the more important themes was a wholesale condemnation of what Bush and the GOP call the "'Ownership Society.'" The speech is a call to arms, a call to others to once again care for the rest of the community as the history of the country shows people have done before. While I think the whole speech should be read in its entirety, here is a little passage I found particularly moving and relevant:

"But I hope you don’t walk away from the challenge. Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. You need to take up the challenges that we face as a nation and make them your own. Not because you have a debt to those who helped you get here, although you do have that debt. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate than you, although I do think you do have that obligation. It’s primarily because you have an obligation to yourself. Because individual salvation has always depended on collective salvation. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential."

Our potential and its realization lies in dreaming; it lies in believing that when one benefits, we all benefit. It lies in not taking the easy road abandoning everyone else in the process. I don't think there is much more I can say that the speaker has not said so well already. We are challenged, now it is our choice to face it. And like the slogan of old, something about together we live, divided we die.

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