Thursday, July 12, 2007

My inaugural address

My fellow Americans, I stand before you today at this podium, after taking that unique and special oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, behind this seal for the first time, with the growing realization of the burden that is settling on my shoulders and only the slightest understanding of how we, as a nation, are going to get through the interesting times we find ourselves.  We are seemingly besieged on all fronts with frightening and immediate events that are streamed into our lives twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year.  Year after year.  Day after day.  Minute by minute coverage of the latest and greatest threat that can kill, hurt, maim, destroy, or shatter your world in all ways imaginable. 

There are armies of soldiers hidden in the shadows trying to kill our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and friends in far away lands.  They are striving to attain an elusive goal that seems to slip through their fingers each time the seem close to achieving victory, not unlike desert sand.  We worry for them and are afraid for their safety.

There are armies of poor, downtrodden immigrants marching on our own borders speaking a language we don’t understand, living a lifestyle we cannot comprehend, and doing work we cannot imagine doing.  We don’t know who they are.  We cannot number them.  We cannot understand them.  We cannot, it seems, stop them.  We don’t know who is coming over in the tides, whether they be just workers of fields and construction, or whether they be workers of iniquity and darkness.  We simply do not know, and we are afraid.

There is crime on our own city streets.  Crime across town that is brought to your living room nightly which makes it seem that your own sanctuary is right in the midst of the storm.  “If it can happen there and it’s so close to here, maybe it can happen here, too” you think to yourselves.  We are nervous.  We are afraid for our own safety.

Your own federal government, is seemingly spending itself recklessly into oblivion.  What of the promises we’ve made to future generations?  What of the promises we’ve made to this generation?  Medicare, mecidaid, social security, basic safety standards on the transportation networks and food supplies, guarantees for the citizenry against abuses by the corporations, guarantees for the powerless against the demands of the powerful; these are only some of the promises we’ve made to our own citizens.  Then there are the promises we’ve made to citizens all across the globe.  Citizens of the United States, not in fact, but in spirit.  All those across the world who yearn to live and die as free men and women.  Who yearn to accomplish their potential.  Is your federal government living up to those promises?  Will that government be able to deliver the goods on those promises to future generations?  Has the government of these United States turned away from the understanding in our own founding documents that ALL persons are endowed with basic human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  We are nervous.  We are afraid for our future and the future of our kinsmen across the globe.

What of our retirement?  What of our environment?  What of our own last days?  Will they be comfortable?  What of our neighbors’ retirement, or last days?  We worry for ourselves.  We worry for those we love. 

I stand here now as the executive of that government.  Had I known more fully so many months ago when I strove to pursue this office the breadth and weight of the burden now falling on my shoulders I would say that I was the reluctant executive of that government.  But I am no reluctant executive.  I sought this office not because of the limousines, or fine suits, or the fact that I will never again have to touch a doorknob in my life, but because I understood that there was anxiety and we as a people are nervous and we as a people are afraid.  Not because of the known, but because of the unknown.

But the unknown is not something to fear, it is something to define.

We stand before a world waiting to be shaped.  We stand before people who are waiting to be freed.  We stand before peace that is waiting to be achieved.  We stand before a future—while yet unknown—that is waiting to be known.  We stand before our future, and our future is expecting an answer as to what we are going to do.  Are we going to shrink from the challenges that face us?  Are we going to shy away from the looming deficits and challenging budgets that are going to come with the fulfillment of our promises to future generations?  Are we going to look to our kinsmen across the globe and tell them that the rights endowed to all men by their creator only extend to those lucky enough to be born in these 50 states?  Are we going to look across town at the storms that rage in our own cities and throw our hands up in exasperated silence?  That is not the America for which I sought to be President.  My America looks at those challenges and says “We will!”  My America looks at the challenges across the globe and says “We can help!”  My America is nervous, yes.  But my America has no need to be nervous or afraid, because my America is strong and resilient and has reaped a mighty bounty of all the blessings bestowed on this great country.  The poorest of other nations would give their very lives to live the life of the poorest here in my America, as evidenced by the legions of men and women, yearning to be free, flooding our borders leaving behind absolute desolation and coming to nothing more than a chance at an opportunity—not an opportunity, mind you, just a chance at an opportunity.

My fellow Americans, we can.  There is not a challenge that we cannot look dead on and, without the slightest wavering in our resolve say, without hesitation or doubt, “we can”.

And this promise I make to you, my fellow, nervous, uneasy Americans.  We will.  Because my America can.

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