Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Full Text of President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

[Images courtesy of AP]


Mr Bojangles said...

Lets see if the actions match the words.

The benediction by Rev Joseph Lowery that followed was as telling:

"Lord, ... we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right... Amen"

Starmandala said...

Mr Bojangles - Correction! "Let's ensure that the actions match the words!" And we can each of us do that by resolving with immediate effect to no longer look to others to lead nor blindly follow those who bedazzle. Rather, we shall EMBODY all the qualities we desire to see emerge & prevail in the reality we bequeath our progeny.

"Amen"? Please don't get me going again! :-)

Anonymous said...

hope to c this happaening in our beloved country very soon.cant wait 4 all these corrupted bastards to b dragged in public n stoned to death.antares anyway tried to mail u but it says this addy does not ezist.mike 5 days a weeeek.

Azer Mantessa said...

"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

hehehe ... well spoken :-)

Anonymous said...

I sympathise and truly feel for all those who cried when Obama won the elections.

True change would have come from Ralph Nader.

It is heartening to know that a black man can be at the apex of a nation which once enslaved people of his race.

But it is sad that so long as you are bound to either the Democratic Party, or the Republican Party, it is the status quo. Look for example the blind allegiance that Obama gave to the AIPAC (America's pro-Israel lobby).

I pity the truly innocent Americans who rejoice in Barack Obama's ascent out of hope, a hope that however gilded is nonetheless simply hollow.

Watch these videos, and you shall understand what Obama really is about, and who is truly inspiring:


Starmandala said...

Mike - Some folks have no trouble getting through to me while others find themselves blocked at every turn. I think of it as a "protective forcefield" that filters out unnecessary distractions &/or disturbances. When you stabilize your own energy field & become clear about why you wish to connect with me, I assure you I will receive your message :-)

Azer - Obama's poetic eloquence befits a true leader & this is where Anwar has a great advantage over every other contender for the throne.

TMWSHBP - Before Barack Obama overtook Hillary Clinton & John McCain & won the US presidency, I knew little about the man & somehow was a tad skeptical (he just seemed "too good to be true" :-). My personal choices for president were Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul & Ralph Nader - but it was clear that none of these were able to even get into the frame of the TV cameras & were hardly glimpsed by the masses (no thanks to the media moguls) except on YouTube. It's hard to say how the world would be feeling right now if, instead of Obama, the guy who delivered the inaugural address yesterday was Kucinich, Paul or Nader. My guess is ANYBODY would have been better than Bush! However, having viewed Obama in action & observed his body language, I'm beginning to applaud & celebrate his near miraculous rise to the White House. The man is certainly impressive & has a clear aura, indicating that he's coming from a completely different place.
Comparing Ralph Nader with Barack Obama, I'd say Obama is light years ahead in termsof personal appeal & charisma - even though we all know Nader is tough as nails & clean as a whistle. Just as S.M. Mohamed Idris has done a really fine job over the decades of heading the Consumers Association of Penang, I'd hate to see the guy become PM. His first act would probably be to ban smoking, he's such a fucking puritan! :-) In any case, like it or not, Barack Obama is the 44th US president & Ralph Nader will always be Ralph Nader, the guy so stuck in his left brain he can't dance.

Anonymous said...

well said antares.looks like got to find a way around the protective forcefield.the reason to connect is that me n fly will try to make it to magickriver on the 25 to have a splashing good time.just want to know if its the right time to come.thanks. mike.

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

Here's my take on Obama on an energistic level on how he uses communication. In a word, it's clean.

For the most part, when I hear someone talk and their thoughts are not in alignment with what is transmitted I usually detect the interference. That dissonance is something even a trained NLP practitioner has difficulty masking for anyone with a high empathic sensitivity.

For an empath, this goes to the very core of the person's integrity in thought, word and deed. Whether Obama has a natural talent for masking his thoughts or if he is truly what he says he is is actually secondary to me. The energy that placed him there as the 44th President of the United States of America was done in the intent and aspiration of a United State of America. That is an overwhelming hope in what is probably the most challenging era of that nation's existence.

If nothing else, his first act as President has already shown me his character. He has lifted the ban on NGO's gathering funds for abortion and birth control in developing countries. If nothing else, this man is practical in thought and deed.

Before anyone raises judgment on how and why they feel this is unacceptable, try stepping out your comfort zone and visit somewhere with crushing poverty. Say inland Indonesia, Myanmar or even the backwaters of Sabah where large families and unchecked birth is more burden than asset. Then come back and see if that is something worth inflicting yourself with. It all comes down to choice and whether I have enough support to make that choice.

So Good Job Obama, bugger what the conservative will say.

Personally, there is no magic in NLP. A wizard is not made by his tools, only his intent and power that is channeled by them. It's like a prayer or mantra. Anyone can read them, how many can shake a room with the energy of hope, healing and love when they sing these stanzas.

If Obama is a mage, then so what? Only time and deed will tell if he is the leader America needs and deserves.

Starmandala said...

Yo, Gerald! Thanks for the very interesting input on Obama. Your scanner is a very useful device & I'm glad you're beginning to trust its readings more & more. I still think you're ready to do your own blog, buddy. Your insights are fascinating & you're wonderfully articulate :-)


Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

The scanner is always on, right now I am working on transmission and channeling.

And if it a creature of the Apocalypse that you want to meet, then I'm bringing a few fresh one's next Friday. Finally managed to bring my best friend and he's every bit the sort of mutant and program breaker I tend to hang around with.

Anonymous said...

change...change...CHANGE in malaysia too !!