Friday, August 29, 2008

The Change We Need

The Democratic National Convention ended last night with a speech by its candidate for president, Barack Obama. How did he do? Well, any speech that makes me forget the passage of time is a good one to me. I glanced at the clock toward the end of the speech and was surprised to find almost an hour had gone by since the man started talking. He said all the things I thought he would about the changes need in this country's policies at home and abroad but what caught my ear was the following about the promise of America:

It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves – protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.

That’s the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.

That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now.

Then later:

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that’s the essence of America’s promise.

He is telling us what Dumbledore told Harry Potter in The Goblet of Fire, "Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy."

Responsibility- individual responsibility and governmental responsibility are the keys to America's recovery. Is America up to that? God, I hope so.

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