When I was young, I was told a tale of Americans in World War Two, traveling around the world to the hidden places, and smiling and shaking hands as is our tradition here. And the British teller of the story said, “ After that, I saw Berbers and Tibetans, smiling. Shaking hands. Never had I seen that before.” he said.
Hope is communicable, as is charity, joy, brutality, fear and illness. I am proud as an American to know that we have shared out youthful enthusiasm for the cause of hope to so many places, to so many of our allies, even in this fearful time; even in this nadir in our relationships. For that hope is vital, for its support is the road that will, someday, lead us to the end of that Fear.
I believe in the unlimited capacity of the supported human being, and that the support we receive; the hopes, aspirations and resources of our environment, dictate our achievements as much as do personal qualities and aspirations. I believe in our individual and societal responsibility to support the human in their potentially unlimited capacity, and in encouraging them to achieve the fullest of their individual measure. I believe in my responsibility to strive and stride, and call to others to do the same , with me or alone, as the need and dream.
I grew up in New York City, an immigrant town. I watched thousands of my fellow New Yorkers as they came to be Americans after arriving here from poor places and cruel places around the world. What changed in that lowly clay that was their share, the flesh that we are all made of? Was it just better food or free air that allowed them to become entrepreneurs, leaders and humanitarians of distinction and potence?
I believe that the difference is that here, in the United States, we live a mantra daily of “I Can”. We create structures to support our people in the pursuit of their dreams. We offer grants and loans, create support groups, and volunteer our time to support the efforts of those we believe see more clearly or move more directly than ourselves. We take pride in our gifted children, and offer them some of our best opportunities, knowing that if we permit them to excel, they will do so beyond our most knowledgeable expectations.
And so, as I offer my thoughts on our potential, I call on all within the sound of my words to believe too: to take the chance on your dream, to help the dream of your neighbor, to hope and act to support that hope. Act concretely, act casually, but act to lift the efforts of hope even a tiny bit, for mankind cannot fly by themselves, but only on the force of the winds created by the greater world that is all of us.
For that combined capacity, I believe, is our, humanity’s, greatest strength.
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