20 January 2009

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

THE NEW PRESIDENT, RELIGION, and OTHER MATTERS

        Frankly, I have been fed up with George W. Bush since he was governor of Texas. For someone who claims that Jesus is his favorite philosopher, Bush's hypocrisy overwhelms me. 
        I am looking forward to President Barack Obama. Although, he too is a Christian, when he speaks of religion, he specifically addresses those of various faiths and NONBELIEVERS. 
        He has so many qualities that Bush didn't have. For one thing, he can put together a complete and intelligent sentence. I hope that he can govern with compassion, something his predecessor didn't do.  And I am hoping the new president will take responsibility for his actions be they failures or successes.

BARACK OBAMA, 44th U.S. President (b.1961):

•“Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason...Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what's possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It's the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.” (Speech, 6/28/2006)

•“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.” (Speech, 7/12/2006)

•“...Given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”

•“I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.” (The New Yorker, 5/31/2004)

•“If condoms and potentially microbicides can prevent millions of deaths [from AIDS], they should be made more widely available. I know that there are those who, out of sincere religious conviction, oppose such measures. And with these folks, I must respectfully but unequivocally disagree. I do not accept the notion that those who make mistakes in their lives should be given an effective death sentence. Nor am I willing to stand by and allow those who are entirely innocent -- wives who, because of the culture they live in, often have no power to refuse sex with their husbands, or children who are born with the infection as a consequence of their parent's behavior -- suffer when condoms or other measures would have kept them from harm.” (Speech, 12/1/2006)

•“If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress.” (Bloomington Pantagraph, 2/25/2005)

•“I have seen people of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself. I've walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South Side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white and Latino fought together for good jobs and good schools. I've sat across the table from law enforcement and civil rights advocates to reform a criminal justice system that sent thirteen innocent people to death row. I've worked with friends in the other party to provide more children with health insurance and more working families with a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent; and to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda in Washington. In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the false labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again. So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union. So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity. So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom's cause. So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that's better, and kinder and more just. And so it must be for us.” (Speech, 6/3/2008)

•“Iraq is sort of a situation where you've got a guy who drove the bus into the ditch. You obviously have to get the bus out of the ditch, and that's not easy to do, although you probably should fire the driver.” (The Daily Show, 11/7/2005)

•“One of the things that's very important in this day and age is that we don't use religion as a political tool and certainly that we don't lie about religion as a way to score political points." (Interview by Sarah Pulliam and Ted Olsen, Christianity Today)

•“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it is because the so-called leaders of the Christian right are all too eager to exploit what divides us....I don't know what Bible they're reading. But it didn't jibe with my version.”

•“This notion that's peddled by the religious right - that they are oppressed is not true. Sometimes it's a cynical ploy to move their agenda ahead. The classic example being that somehow secularists are trying to eliminate Christmas, which strikes me as some kind of manufactured controversy.” (Street Prophets interview, 7/11/2006)

•“We have a stake in one another ... what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and ... if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth.” (Speech, 12/1/2006)

•“We live in a culture that discourages empathy. A culture that too often tells us our principle goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained.” (Speech, 7/12/2006)

•“We need not throw away 200 years of American jurisprudence while we fight terrorism. We need not choose between our most deeply held values, and keeping this nation safe. (Speech, 6/18/2008)

•“We think of faith as a source of comfort and understanding but find our expression of faith sowing division; we believe ourselves to be a tolerant people even as racial, religious, and cultural tensions roil the landscape. And instead of resolving these tensions or mediating these conflicts, our politics fans them, exploits them, and drives us further apart.” (The Audacity of Hope)

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Excerpts from  President Obama's Inaugural Address, 1/20/09:

•“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....

“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...

“They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction...

“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...

“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...

“Recall that earlier generations... 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 a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth....

“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 the 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...

“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...” 


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It may be noted that President Obama mentioned God five times and the Scriptures once during his Inaugural Address.

Of related interest: 

2 comments:

Kelly said...

I was not implying that you shouldn't respect others beliefs. I agree that you SHOULD. what I was saying is that if you have a religion - you think it is the only way. You don't have to FORCE it on anyone; you can still respect other's decisions to make their own choices, but you do not have to agree with them. I have many friends who believe differently than I do, on many issues - that does not mean I can't be friends with them. I however, do not think it is right to treat all religions as the same - because they are NOT! Does that make any sense? I did not mean to offend anyone with what I said. And I apologize that it was not clear.

libhom said...

I think it is important to recognize President Obama's skills as an orator both as a skill and something to take into consideration when analyzing his politics. He gives wonderful speeches, but he doesn't always live up to them, as the involvement of Rick Warren in the inauguration demonstrates.

It is important to look at the fine print with Obama or any other politician.

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