Field of Science

Inaugural Address



The entire transcript is here.

A couple of highlights in my estimation:

1. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

YAY!!! Data as something meaningful!

2. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

First Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. You know the discourse in this country is pretty well stated in the first part of this verse.
However, where in the bible/koran/other religious text would I find the idea that "all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness?" More of a Declaration of Independence feel to me.

3. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This, I find, is a strong rebuke to the isolationist anti-other mind-set of the last 8+ years.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed.

Narrow interests? In a country that voted in 2004 for Bush-Cheney in large part because gays were gonna steal our weddins?

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

Suck it GW

4. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Well said sir.

5. For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

Read that again "christian nation" proponents, actually read that 100 times. Hell, everyone read that again, it is beautiful prose to say the least. BTW thanks Mr. President, for allowing a non-believer to part of this great country again.

6. This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

I actually found this an important point. President Obama is a Christian with a deep faith. However, unlike many of the unthinking masses that feed from the trough of the local pastor, President Obama has a thinking rationale faith (in many ways it seems analogous to our founding fathers). Here is a statement that directly points to his placement of his god at the center of our existence (in a tangential way, not that the earth was created as is 6000 years ago). However, this is not an exclusionary statement to me. "...calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny." The future is uncertain, and it is dependent on us what that future will be. If the future sucks, its on us. If the future rocks, we rolled. Here god is an amorphous concept, not a specific deity begging for our adulation to get over his self-esteem issues. God as used here is a sense of right-and-wrong, justice, fairness. While President Obama's may believe in a specific god in a specific way. Here, I find he is using god conceptually and inclusively, a nice change from the "my god or the highway" approach of the Bush years.

3 comments:

drdrA said...

Lorax-

Thanks for the recap- I'm going to keep reading it over and over. I especially second your comment-

'BTW thanks Mr. President, for allowing a non-believer to part of this great country again.'

I sat up a little straighter in my chair when he said that. I'm so TIRED of the 'Christian Nation' bla bla bla that people around me are spouting. I was so ready to hear a leader actually LEAD in this area...

SnapperGas said...

Do you really think he is ". . .a Christian with a deep faith"?

I struggle with that question. Obviously we haven't progressed to the point where we would elect an atheist to public office, and certainly BO knows that. He was also raised by his atheist mother and is very intelligent. My hunch is that he has a much more pragmatic view of religion but has to "appear" as a devout Christian.

The Lorax said...

I am hesitant to contradict someone's proffered religious standing. I would not appreciate it, if someone assumed I was a believer, but had to pretend I wasn't because I was a life scientist.

That being said, I think Obama's freethinking upbringing had a profound effect on his religious world-view. His words, particularly his religious words, have a much more deist tone to them, then you generally see. I find it similar to Ken Miller and some of the leading religious thinkers. This is analogous to the views of the founding fathers. I believe it is pragmatic in that his beliefs are molded around reality, not the other way around.