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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pres. Kennedy's words were aimed at the world--but now apply to Americans, ourselves


I could try to write something profound (like this by Steve Almond) but John F. Kennedy said it so much better in his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1961. In some of these quotes, he was referencing the larger world; but in today's venomous political climate, I'm struck by how these words of strength and reconciliation apply to ourselves:
For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life....
United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder....
To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge—to convert our good words into good deeds—in a new alliance for progress—to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house....
So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate...
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us....
 Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce....
  Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah—to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the oppressed go free...."

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved....

Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself....

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country....

With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own....

Read it all; I recommend it>>

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