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mattbrowne's avatar

I have a dream - How will future historians view Barack Obama's speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009?

Asked by mattbrowne (31588points) June 4th, 2009

In my opinion it was a historical speech and I’m very impressed. Maybe future historians will view Barack Obama’s Cairo speech as equally important as the “I have a dream” speech of Martin Luther King. Because the dream of today’s speech is also about a day in the future when all people regardless of their faith will live in peace. I think Obama has touched all the hearts of well-meaning Arabs and Muslims around the world, as well as all well-meaning Israelis and Europeans and Americans.

If you haven’t seen it on tv here’s a link:

and the text can be found here

Here’s the most important part at the end:

I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

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14 Answers

Judi's avatar

If you’re not right, the world is deaf.

cookieman's avatar

I was moved simply reading the excerpt you included (can’t wait to watch it tonight).

What pettiness, what hatred or fear of “the other” would cause someone to not see that this is the way we (as humans) need to go?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Judi – I hope a lot of people also listened to this very important part:

“Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.”

It was a non-violent movement in East Germany that brought the Berlin Wall down.

archer's avatar

stand-up comedy for tyrants.

archer's avatar

@mattbrowne, in isolation that is a very good quote, however, it was not “a non-violent movement” that brought down the berlin wall, and had the people had the means to overthrow their oppressors via violent means it would have come down much sooner.

Judi's avatar

@archer ; I believe @mattbrowne may have been there. he is a primary source. (I’m not sure how old you are matt)

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thank you for posting this. Sadly I did not have the chance to watch it when it was aired. Beautiful words and very true.

MissAusten's avatar

I saw excerpts of the speech tonight, as well as commentary from “ordinary” people in Cairo and parts of the world. No one can deny that Obama is an incredible speaker, and I thought the sentiment of the speech was exactly what has been lacking in Middle East relations since…well…forever.

Actions speak louder than words of course, so now we’ll have to wait and see what kind of actions back up this speech. Will all of the different groups who are happy with the speech try to live up to that spirit and seek peaceful resolutions?

tabbycat's avatar

I just listened to it tonight and was very impressed. President Obama said many simple truths in a more direct way than any politician I can remember has stated them, and I believe the people listened, both in Cairo and in the United States. Of course, he was much helped by his own deep knowledge of history and of the world’s religions, and I am so pleased that we have an American President who is so thoughtful and well educated.

But I agree that actions speak louder than words. If the appropriate actions follow, and if real progress is made toward a better understanding between nations, I suspect that this speech will indeed rank with the “I have a dream speech.” If not, many people will regard it as only rhetoric.

mattbrowne's avatar

@archer and @Judi: I’m 46 years old and I grew up and live in Germany. I guess I know more about the history and it’s a fact that the Wall was brought down by a peaceful movement. You are clearly mistaken, archer. Of course, the general conditions where favorable with Gorbachev in power, with Poland having started the Solidarność movement. With Hungary opening their borders to East Germans crossing into Austria and so forth.

mattbrowne's avatar

@MissAusten – Action does not only involve the politicians. It involves everyone. It involves you and me. I involves the teenagers in Kansas and Cairo. Here’s another quote:

“On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.”

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I’ll believe it when I see it. For now, it is no different to the peace talks between Israel and Palestine that have promised to ‘herald a new era’, but have only delayed the fighting for another two months or so. Many Middle East nations have sworn solemn oaths that they will not rest until Israel is removed. Obama’s speech is just the latest in a long line of doomed attempts at peace. I apologise if my scepticism isn’t what you are looking for, but it has happened so many times before, I don’t see what might change.

mattbrowne's avatar

Well, many slaves in the early 18th century thought trying to achieve freedom is a doomed attempt.

archer's avatar

melanie phillips finds positive and negative in the speech

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