Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lighthouse and Crossroads

In order to dispel any notion that by promoting unity/empathy/Ubuntu, the great leaders I mentioned previously are simply calling for the accommodation of our most profound beliefs/principles, I'd invite to to listen to or read President Obama's remarks at the 2009 Notre Dame Commencement.

For some context, when it was announced that the President would be the commencement speaker, anti-abortion activists on campus engaged in protests. But rather than dismissing them, President Obama went right to the heart of the matter and addressed the topic head on. It was a profound exhibition of strength, courage and empathy.

Here's how he concluded his speech.
And in this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you’ve been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. In other words, stand as a lighthouse.

But remember, too, that you can be a crossroads. Remember, too, that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It’s the belief in things not seen...

And this doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, cause us to be wary of too much self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open and curious and eager to continue the spiritual and moral debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us even as we cling to our faith to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works and charity and kindness and service that moves hearts and minds.

For if there is one law that we can be most certain of, it is the law that binds people of all faiths and no faith together. It’s no coincidence that it exists in Christianity and Judaism; in Islam and Hinduism; in Buddhism and humanism. It is, of course, the Golden Rule -- the call to treat one another as we wish to be treated. The call to love. The call to serve. To do what we can to make a difference in the lives of those with whom we share the same brief moment on this Earth...

I will not pretend that the challenges we face will be easy, or that the answers will come quickly, or that all our differences and divisions will fade happily away -- because life is not that simple. It never has been.

But as you leave here today, remember the lessons of Cardinal Bernardin, of Father Hesburgh, of movements for change both large and small. Remember that each of us, endowed with the dignity possessed by all children of God, has the grace to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we all seek the same love of family, the same fulfillment of a life well lived...

If nothing else, that knowledge should give us faith that through our collective labor, and God’s providence, and our willingness to shoulder each other’s burdens, America will continue on its precious journey towards that more perfect union.


  1. I never thought I'd live to exist under a presidency that embodied the actual working out of the Dream. Thank you for these two posts, Nancy. They are powerful. Putting all of this together makes it far more potent for even those of us who heard it before separately. I only hope that by 2016 we find a candidate for president who carries this hope and its reality forward.

    1. "actual working out of the Dream"

      LOVE that!!!!

  2. powerful....

    i am so glad to rehear the President's words...i am always in awe of them...they always touch me..

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