Some of us have chosen America as the land of our adoption; the rest have come from those who did the same. For this reason we have some right to consider ourselves a picked group, a group of those who had the courage to break from the past and brave the dangers and the loneliness of a strange land. What was the object that nerved us, or those who went before us, to this choice? We sought liberty – freedom from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves. This then we sought; this we now believe that we are by way of winning. What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.
While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it. And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few – as we have learned to our sorrow.
What then is the spirit of liberty?
I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of those men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interest alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten – that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side-by-side with the greatest. And now in that spirit, that spirit of an American which has never been, and which may never be – nay, which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans create it – yet in the spirit of America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all; in the spirit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and of America so prosperous, and safe, and contented, we shall have failed to grasp its meaning, and shall have been truant to its promise, except as we strive to make it a signal, a beacon, a standard to which the best hopes of mankind will ever turn; In confidence that you share that belief, I now ask you to raise you hand and repeat with me this pledge:
I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands–One nation, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.“
As the sister of a retired Navy SEAL (and as someone who started an organization about the importance getting along) I liked this part.
President Obama in last night’s State of the Union:
Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.
One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates – a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.
All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job – the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other – because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.
So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I think – as President Kennedy pointed out – sometimes when you try to ride the tiger, you wind up inside of it. And you’ve seen this over the last couple of years: Any insult to Rush Limbaugh is greeted with an immediate apology from whatever offending Republican, no matter their rank or stature. When you have someone who yells “you lie” in the middle of the State of the Union, donations flood into the website. So there has been a reward system based on the intemperance of the rhetoric, not on the substance of the ideas, the strength of conservatism as the solution to the problems. So this carnival atmosphere, once started, it isn’t that easy to shut off. And we may be about to pay a high price for it.” – Steve Schmidt, Republican strategist on Morning Joe (Photo credit)
“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand… the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” — Eric Schmidt, Google
(Photo credit: KAZ Vorpal)
“The late great Patrick Moynihan said that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. I’m not sure that’s true anymore in the social media age. It seems that everyone lives in their own reality.” — Steve Schmidt
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday on This Week with Christiane Amanpour:
“The tone is not good right now. And our political system here in Washington, particularly up on the Hill, Congress, has become very, very tense, in that the two sides, the Republicans and the Democrats, are focusing more and more on their extreme left and extreme right. And we have to come back toward the center in order to compromise.
A story I like to tell is our founding fathers were able to sit in Philadelphia and make some of the greatest compromises known to man — tough, tough issues.
But they did it. Why? Because they were there to create a country, whereas we have a Congress now that can’t even pass an appropriations bill, and we’re running this country on a continuing resolution, which — what else are they here for but to pass appropriations bills?
And so we have got to find a way to start coming back together. And let me say this directly. The media has to help us. The media loves this game where everyone is on the extreme. It makes for great television. It makes for great chatter. It makes for great talk shows all day long with commentators commenting on commentators about the latest little mini-flap up on Capitol Hill.
So what we have to do is, sort of, take some of the heat out of our political life in terms of the coverage of it so these folks can get to work quietly.”
(Photo credit: Josh Self)
“Maybe the drug companies could come up with a pill that would cure of the the evil in our nature… things like hate, jealousy, dishonesty, selfishness.” — Andy Rooney
Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… This is the interrelated structure of reality. –Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The great scholar Daniel Bell once summed up the essence of the Protestant ethic that spawned industrial civilization in the West: Delayed gratification, the ability to save and invest today for a better tomorrow. That’s been at the heart of ever society’s leap from poverty to plenty.” –Fareed Zakaria, CNN Global Public Square this morning. Watch the video of the entire commentary here.
“What we lack in the U.S. today is the confidence that is generated by solving one big, hard problem… together.” — Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric
This morning Starbucks has announced some interesting community partnerships that will profit-share in neighborhoods like Harlem and the Bronx. We just mentioned Starbucks yesterday with news that its CEO Howard Schultz was recommending that companies consider sitting out this election cycle until the kids in Washington start behaving like grownups. What an interesting turn of events this would be: Our elected leaders stop leading and our companies stop funding their expensive campaigns to keep the jobs they aren’t doing; take the money and lead themselves… Check out the initiative at www.starbucks.com