September 20, 2001
In the crucible of crisis, the mere and superfluous characteristics
of a person are burned away, and what remains are the core
values and essences of a person. So too a nation of people.
This past week, I have noticed that people are talking about
what America means to them. I have noticed white, black, brown,
and yellow Americans all waving the red, white, and blue flag,
and speak to one another as members of a family instead of
as strangers. In my time, this is unprecedented.
What I hope for is a continuing and broadening civil public
discussion on what it is to be American, what America stands
for, and for what it opposes. And I hope that both sides of
the political spectrum come to greater consensus on the need
for justice, for liberty, and for common concerns of the American
citizenry. I hope that the debate shall commence on what the
rights of people in a representative democracy are and what
the obligations of the government and private enterprise or
capitalism truly are for the benefit of the people of this
I hope that Americans of all colors will see no color when
America is spoken of. And that in their hearts, and actions
fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King, where we arrive at
a time when the content of a person's character means more
than the color of their skin.
I hope that the right in America will recognize that we as
a people will not survive with their past attitudes towards
those less fortunate Americans and will no longer have as
a political basis their attitude of "I'm alright, Jack,
I have mine, get your own." I hope that the right sees
that to be a patriot truly means helping America be strong
in the neighborhoods and schools, and on every street in the
land, as well as in arms and national defense. And that its
true strength lies in its people and their enfranchisement
in the economic and political processes.
That as a patriotic duty, no child goes hungry, no one remains
sick or dies because of inadequate medical care, and that
our elderly are adequately cared for. That all children are
cherished, nourished, and educated to the best abilities that
America as a nation can provide. I hope that this tragedy
brings even the most wealthy to understand that their wealth
is drawn from the well of the entire nation and that they
must share common cause and concerns with the rest of the
That human rights support throughout the world will be our
best weapon to provide our own security. I hope that the right
will begin to understand that in the international arena if
we promote capitalism without democracy, or side with foreign
tyrants against the indigenous population, then we shall again,
and again, reap the whirlwind.
I hope that the right sees that as we move forward, the view
that we as a people are all in this together, that a new awareness
of justice shall be awakened and the current injustices to
many in America are addressed so as to fulfill the promise
of America as the best hope for freedom, liberty and justice
for all Americans.
From the left I hope to see an increased recognition that
the world is a brutal, and cruel place, that the world is
not black and white, but shaded in grays, and that good does
not always triumph over evil. That the nation needs to be
vigilant in its defense, and that America even with all its
many faults and unfulfilled promises stands as the best hope
for freedom for future generations and for the things that
they and I espouse in our words and actions today.
And recognize that it will require hard work from us all
to bring this about. And that we as a people are prepared
to hear and willing to embrace through sacrifice and through
action the spirit of the words spoken by John F. Kennedy,
"a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle,
year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"ča
struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty,
disease, and war itself."
These things are not a call for state fascism, or communism.
They are the natural consequences of an enlightened and vigorous
debate on the social compact of the American people that has
lingered on the edges of our national consciousness since
it was first alluded to over 220 years ago in the Preamble
to the United States Constitution:
"WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form
a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States
I hope for the best.
Assalam Alaikum (Peace be Upon You)