4 June 2009
Somewhere in 2007, when I was not yet blogging again, I began to articulate my hopes for an Obama presidency. One foundation on which my hope for change rested was the simple symbolism of his name and skin color. I wanted to be able to hold his image before the world as a concrete demonstration that the US was changing course. He hardly had to do more than exist, I imagined, to make the world a better place.
Today that vision became real, and so much more. Barack Obama not only exists, he invites, engages, and challenges the world. He calls us all to be better than we have been. His speech in Cairo makes me feel like we are not in Kansas anymore (so to speak). We have entered a new era.
Without leadership painting a vision of the world we want it is very hard to act together toward a constructive end. Obama is laying that vision out, and the world he envisions is a world I want to live in. It is a world I want to work to create. I doubt I am alone. I think we are in the presence of true leadership.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort — a sustained effort — to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
It’s easier to start wars than to end them. It’s easier to blame others than to look inward. It’s easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There’s one rule that lies at the heart of every religion — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Applause.) This truth transcends nations and peoples — a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.