choosing hope over fear

I’m way too busy today to take time out and write the post that I wanted to write about Obama’s inauguration, but I wanted to single out the part of President Obama’s inaugural speech – a classy and necessary repudiation of the Bush years, I thought – that I was hoping to hear:

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.

Can we have safety and still respect the rule of law? Yes, we can.

40 thoughts on “choosing hope over fear”

  1. Been laid up with a stomach virus all day, but it meant I got uninterrupted time on the couch to watch the festivities. Am watching the parade on CNN.com now. I’m really glad I got to see this, even though I’ve been sick all through it.
    It’s been one hell of a day for America. Only regret is my dad never got to see this. He’d have loved it.

  2. Thank you for that touching exerpt. It was a great speech by a great man. The sense of national pride that he brings back to the office of the President is something that has been lacking for the last eight years.
    This will be an inaugural speech to be remebered with the likes of Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

  3. One of the most perplexing things about the past 8 years was that many of the sacrifices to our ideals were not only totally unnecessary, but reduced our security.
    And it’s not like I’m some uninformed far-left freak; I make a pretty damn good living as a security professional and am moderately well known in the right circles. I have no problem with legal snooping and other sorts of things, but the decisions of the former (damn I love saying that) administration seemed more about obstinance, power, and ego than safety. They were out to prove something, rather than focusing on the end goal.
    I have no doubts that their primary desire was to protect us (well, Bush, Cheney is a different story), but their consistent agenda of destroying civil rights and everything else I thought makes us American in the name of security seemed… wrong.

  4. I’ve been watching here in the UK all evening. What a speech.. “your country will judge you on what you BUILD not what you destroy”
    Nice for someone to also mention that american is made up of people from all religions INCLUDING non-believers! Awesome. Bush would of had none of that.
    The WORLD feels like a better place today, and if we can but ride on the hope he’s brought us alone.. i am proud to be alive in this era again

  5. Today is my birthday, and while not a lot happened today, I have to say this will be one of the most remembered one. I never thought I’d live to see a historical moment as having President Obama being sworn in. What a pleasant surprise that it’s on my b.day! Very cool.

  6. Wil, you and I almost never see eye to eye on political stuff (nerdy stuff? parenting stuff? oh hell yeah), but I too keyed in on that phrase. Excellent point. I’ve been quoting Ben Franklin at people for years, “those who trade freedom for security deserve neither”. (Probably mangled, but close).
    Farewell Bush, let’s try something different for a few years.

  7. My favorite part was We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.

  8. My first son was due to be born today but actually arrived over three weeks ago (named Will, ironically). Right now he is uninterested in the events of today—all he cares about it milk at the moment—but years from now I’ll have to tell him about today and the three weeks he lived under President Bush.

  9. That’s the part of Obama’s speech I honed in on as well! I also loveloveloved the end of Reverend Lowery’s benediction: …when white will embrace what’s right…amen!

  10. I’m glad they weren’t empty words, either. Early speculation regarding the inauguration said President Obama wouldn’t take The Walk (on his way to The White House). What a relief to see him do that. Ideals over safety indeed.

  11. It’s not often that politicians make people happy, but today was inspiring. “Science” is no longer a four-letter word. Good luck to President Obama and the U.S.A.
    Please spare a thought for the workers who have to shift all those portapotties.
    Finally, the spirit of freedom is in the air.
    *sniffs cautiously*
    At least – I think it’s freedom…

  12. Yes! I think his speech hit all the right notes, and that was one of the highlights.
    President Obama. It just sounds so good.

  13. While I most loved hearing that part of the speech, I couldn’t help but feel it rang false from a guy who voted to retroactively legalize warrantless wiretapping of US citizens.
    I’m not saying I’m not hopeful, I’m just saying that we need to watch this guy closely and insist that he follow through on these promises.

  14. Yep. We just have to give our enemies cake and they will love us now that we have a President who is more American Idol winner that substance.
    Junk like that is why my TV is staying off this entire week until the Kool-Aid fest dies down to a more bearable level.

  15. That was pretty close. I agree with it. I am not a fan of The President, though I respect his authority as my President. President Obama is going to bring Change to this country, however it is going to be in the form of Socialism and Progressivism. Yes it is ground breaking that We as a nation elected our first man of color, but do not let that blind you for what he is, A socialist with a Marxist agenda flirting with Pregressive Ideology.
    Now I am not letting Former President Bush off the hook here. He has done a lot of Good for this country and through congress’s ability to blindly sign into law anything that they think will get them elected or is sensational, has done an excruciating amount of harm. Bush term 1 was good, Bush term 2 was exactly like any other 2nd term President, CRAP!

  16. As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
    Hear, hear!
    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”- Benjamin Franklin

  17. I feel the classiest, strongest part of the speech was at the end. Reminding us all about the “meaning of our liberty and our creed,” and of how to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps when things look their bleakest, by quoting Washington quoting Thomas Paine’s “The American Crisis” to his beleaguered troops:
    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].”
    To me it was a poignant, potent message. The right thing to say at the best possible time to say it. The cynics may sneer, here or elsewhere, but I felt roused and inspired. Sure the euphoria will probably wear off and be replaced by cold, harsh reality by the end of the week, but, for this brief shining moment, Obama has given us all a little more hope. And that can be a powerful, productive thing.
    I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us…’Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

  18. I didn’t catch much of Obama’s speech, as I was at work and had appointments coming in, but I happened to catch this very part on the computer in the office. And I couldn’t agree more.

  19. A very sad day for the country, that we put this much stock into POTUS. Just shows the depths of the people’s unwillingness to MYOB.
    The whole “black” thing just cracks me up to no end. Our culture has caved to the club of PC-ness it’s hilarious. Ha! Suckers.

  20. Just a reminder that as of today, there is no check and balance in the executive or legislative branches of government. The democrats basically can do whatever they want without any need of Republicans. Not what the founding fathers had in mind. I was against it when the Republicans had it all in the early 2000’s and I’m not thrilled about now either. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  21. That man has a long, hard road to pave to do what he wants with, and for, this country. I agree that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Let us hope that the power is used to give rights and services to the people, and not to take them away as they did in California with Prop 8. Thanks Wil for posting the BEST part of that whole speech.
    tJR

  22. Give “rights” and “services?”
    Rights are not given, they exist with or without government, and innate to man.
    People have to give themselves their own service, and not expect me to do it for them.

  23. “Let us hope that the power is used to give rights and services to the people, and not to take them away as they did in California with Prop 8.”
    What?? Who took any rights away with Prop 8? Prop 8 asked for rights to be given and it was defeated by the majority.
    No rights were taken away. Also, I wish people would stop acting like voting against Prop 8 was like nailing Jesus to the cross…no country has EVER allowed marriage to be between members of the same sex. The people who wanted Prop 8 to pass were the ones that were trying to reinvent the wheel and change the norm…not the ones who voted against it. Why stop at same sex marriage? How about men/women marrying more than one person? How about 3? How about 15? How about lowering the marriage age to 12 years old? How about 6 years old? Maybe brothers and sisters should be allowed to get married?
    Obviously, society has the right to determine where the lines are drawn. It has been that way since the beginning of time.

  24. I thought President Obama was respectful and deferential to President Bush.
    He said several positive things this week.
    Now that the election is over some people want to keep throwing rocks.
    I guess you hear what you want to hear.

  25. Prop 8 passed. It took away the right for gays to marry which had been granted to them the previous May. Basically, everything in the first two paragraphs of your post is ass-backwards.
    I feel very happy to be able to write that you very obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.
    I can, however, agree that society has the right to determine where the lines are drawn. It has determined, over time, that people are not to be owned as property, that children should not have to work like adults, that women can vote and earn an equivalent paycheck to men. It will soon determine that loving, consenting adults have the right to marry each other irrespective of gender. All to the good.

  26. “…..no country has EVER allowed marriage to be between members of the same sex. ”
    What?!?
    Canada? Spain? Norway? The Netherlands? Belgium? South Africa?
    Ignorance at a whole new level.
    By the way, good speech, and congratulations USA, everyone has their fingers crossed.

  27. Overcooked speech by an blowhard of President with no experience running anything. Chamge? Hiring all Clinton cronies is not change.
    Thank you President George Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney for keeping America safe and cleaning out the stench of the Clinton years. It was great having a President who did not run the country by looking at a poll.
    Like Mr. Bush or not, he handled the office with class and handled the transition with class and dignity, too bad Democrats can’t say their people ever did that (Carter, Clinton).
    I wish Mr. Obama luck and hope for prosperity for our country but I simply think he is a socialist who wants me to pay for everyone else’s mistakes and he wants America to become Europe.

  28. That first paragraph you highlighted made me smile like a great, big doofus when I heard it.
    I think the entire speech can be summarised thussly: “Hey – Mr Stoopid’s gone. Let’s do things right for a change.”
    Buldersent: I don’t recall Mr Bush “keeping America safe” on 9/11.

  29. The feed we were watching panned over to former President Bush during this section, looking smug and arrogant as ever. Everyone in the room laughed at him. So glad he’s gone.

  30. “Hope is untying that little knot of fear and hate we all carried inside”.
    Wish I’d said it, but I was watchng ET (please don’t tell) and it was one of the glitterati from the Neighbourhood Inauguration Ball. Queen Latifah or her Mum? Or maybe Mary J. Blige?
    Sigh … wish I’d paid more attention, it’s a great quote, with a beautiful sentiment.

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