Kennedy at American University, June 1963.
I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace. What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children -- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.
So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal.
Obama, today, in Cairo:
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
I'm currently reading his memoir, "Dreams From My Father". He wrote it before he embarked on a career as a politician, and it is honest and open in a way that most politics are not. The treatment of religion is something that in the book, Obama sees as innate in helping shape people into who they are, and a gravitational force around which many people build their lives. From his recollections of reading Malcom X's Autobiography, spending his youth in the multi-cultural tropics of Hawaii and Indonesia, his grandparent's Christian-Kansas upbringing, and his mother's atheism, it seems fair to say that his beliefs fall anywhere from a secular Jeffersonian Christianity to closeted disbelief.
It could be projection to see the President as sharing my particular cosmological worldview, but I am not the only one who thinks this. In his young adulthood, the fulcrum of his segue from local community leader in Chicago to a life in state politics was a newfound conversion to Christianity.
Sullivan reads Obama's Cairo speech, and he sees Reagan, Reagan, Reagan.
"My reader is right: no other figure in global politics could have done this. At its heart, the speech sprang, it seemed to me, a spiritual conviction that human differences, if openly acknowledged, need not remain crippling. It was a deeply Christian - and not Christianist - address; seeking to lead by example and patience rather than seeking to impose from certainty
"Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." The man has, for a politician, done this more powerfully than any president I have known since Reagan. And his vision is Reagan's: a world without nuclear weapons, in which our differences are occasions for healthy and human interaction, not terror, torture and mass destruction."
"In which our differences are occasions for healthy and human interaction." Wow, it takes balls to describe what Reagan engaged in vis a vis
-Supporting and funding Genocide in Central and South America in defense of Capitalism.
as 'healthy and human interaction'. Reagan introduced Christianist language and codewords that we see today from the Right into the national public dialogue. He supported and sold weapons to Saddam Hussein in the Iraq-Iran war. He appealed to Americans' sense of patriotism, travelled the world as public ambassador for American peace and fellowship, but then covertly engaged in activities commonly attributed to lesser conscienceless Empires. These are indisputable facts.
Sullivan greatly admires Reagan, so he see's the Gipper in Obama. Atheists see his grasp of the lessons from all world faiths, not just a myopic theism, so we see a fellow non-believer in him. African-Americans see his own struggle with race.
The leaders we choose and admire are mirrors for our own values.