Sunday, January 20, 2008

Barack Obama's Latest Greatest

From his speech/sermon titled The Great Need of the Hour, delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, today, Sunday, January 20, 2008, the day before MLK day:

It's not easy to stand in somebody else's shoes. It's not easy to see past our differences. We've all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart - that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.

For most of this country's history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays - on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others - all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face - war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.
It's another masterpiece. Read the whole thing. I haven't come across a video of Obama delivering this speech/sermon; but I can only imagine, just from reading the text of the address, how much more powerful it must have been to hear it delivered in the way that only Obama can. If anyone has a link to a clip of Obama delivering this address (even if only an audio clip), I would be much obliged if you would share this link with me.

Now ... I was born the year MLK, Jr., was killed, so I have really no personal connection to the vibrancy of the Civil Rights era in its heyday; but I can't help but imagine that the emotions and the inspiration that I draw from Obama, and his message of unity and of hope, must be what many felt listening to Dr. King. In many ways, I think Obama transcends even Presidential Politics. I am convinced that, win or lose this primary, Obama will have transformed our society just for having participated. God bless him for giving all of us this gift.


justin said...

The Daily Kos had similarly kind remarks regarding the speech and linked to a CSPAN political coverage website in which you can see video:

Huck said...

Thanks for the comment and the link, justin.