Call to Inspire
“It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.” He came from what many would call a less privileged heritage and became the most influential man in his country. This might have been a quote from Gandhi or Mandela but it is part of Barrack Obama’s farewell address as President of the United States of America.
In his speech President Obama spoke of the American dream that began in 1776 when a group of colonists committed to a certain belief, not just one he shares but one that the entire nation was built upon and a belief that continues to motivate and inspire.
“And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government. It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.”
The American dream is about giving people a chance and freedom or, as President Obama defined it, “The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good. For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.”
His farewell address was not so much about saying goodbye but about inspiring everyone to continue the good fight for all people. He noted that the path towards that is often bumpy and full of potholes. “So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow. Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.”
The measure of any person is by their forward movement, the forward motion of our intentions. We are not always successful but we should never give up or give in. Life is best lived moving forward. It really is the only profitable direction we have to travel.