Sunday, June 12, 2005

Obama on Self and Nation

Ivo Daalder at TPM Cafe highlights Barack Obama's commencment speech at Knox College as part of a post on american exceptionalism:

And then America happened: A place where destiny was not a destination, but a journey to be shared and shaped and remade by people who had the gall, the temerity to believe that, against all odds, they could form “a more perfect union” on this new frontier.
Obama turns from our past to our future and to the importance of participation in public life:

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. You need to take up the challenges that we face as a nation and make them your own. Not because you have a debt to those who helped you get here, although you do have that debt. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate than you, although I do think you do have that obligation. It’s primarily because you have an obligation to yourself. Because individual salvation has always depended on collective salvation. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.
Obama's vision is of a nation continually reaching towards an ideal, where citizens enjoy autonomy in their own lives while they strive to improve the common good.

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