Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A More Perfect Union

This post is a little put off since this speech was delivered quite a while ago, but I would like to share a few thoughts on it since I think it is extremely important.

The speech I am referring to is Barack Obama's speech on race, "A More Perfect Union." Race is such a prevalent issue in this country, so this is so important to hear about and understand, especially from the point of view of a candidate who has a very high chance at becoming our next president. Especially for Barack Obama, who has been deemed the title of the black candidate, hearing his two cents on race is imperitive. And he surely does a great job at dissecting the racial issue in America and talking about how to possibly overcome that.

One thing I really like about Obama is that he writes his own speeches, unlike many political figures who give speeches. I love the effort he puts in--very thought-provoking. His writing is very intelligent too; we have a smart candidate here on our hands.

Below, I want to paste sections I find critical and important, for those of you who did not watch, hear, or read what he wrote, just check out these paragraphs, skim through them, to see the gist of his message.

"This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren."

"But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny."

SOLUTION: "In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well."

*** "For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies." ***

"I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election."

Obama's words are so wise and true. He states that we are at a "racial stalemate" and then quotes from William Faulkner: "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." Racial issues still are around even though we think of the Civil Rights Movement and laws passed because of it to have cured the problem, but the problem isn't completely solved. Beliefs and ideologies are still in tact and can be quite hard to break.

But as Obama pledges, we can change. He professes and promises change and hope--two things this country needs. I put my faith in his words.

What did you think of his speech?

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