奥巴马:我们热爱的美国(2008-6-30)

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我们热爱的美国
巴拉克·奥巴马 戴开元译
奥巴马
【该文章阅读量:239次】【字号:大中小】
1775年4月的一天早晨,一群普通的殖民者、农民、商人、铁匠、印刷工,大人和儿童,离开他们在列克星顿和康科德的家园与家人,拿起武器反抗某个帝国的残暴统治。他们获胜的可能性很小,失败的风险很大,即使没有战死沙场,失败后他们也将被控叛逆罪而被绞死。
然而他们利用了那个机会。他们之所以这样做,不是为了某个部落或家族,而是为了一个更重要的理念,为了自由的理念,为了上帝赋於他们的不可剥夺的权利的理念。在那个决定命运的日子,在响彻全球的第一枪打响以后,试验民主制度的美国革命开始了。
这些列克星顿与康科德的居民是我国最早的一批爱国者。在国庆周的第一天,我认为我们应该停下来思考一下爱国主义的意义。这是因为我们现在正在打仗,150多万我国最优秀的男女青年正在伊拉克和阿富汗作战,六万多人受伤,4600多人已经阵亡,这场战争的成本非常高昂,而对於我们在伊拉克的使命,我国发生了非常激烈的争论。这么多人做出了牺牲,深入思考那些把我们凝为一体、组成国家的理念,是很自然的事。
我们之所以思考爱国主义,还因为我们正在举行大选,也许这是数代人中最重要的一次选举,一次决定我国未来数年或数十年路线的选举。它不仅关系到医疗、就业、能源、教育和退休保障等重要 问题,而且还涉及到价值观问题。我们怎样才能既保障自己的安全,又保障我们的自由?在政府似乎日益脱离人民、被特殊利益集团操纵之际,怎样才能恢复人民对政府的信任?在这个经济日益全球化的时代,怎样才能使幸运者履行对不幸者的义务?在这个日益多元化的时代,我们应该怎样解决我们之间的分歧?
最后,我们之所以思考爱国主义,还因为谁爱国谁不爱国的问题,往往毒化我们的政治辩论,分裂而不是团结人民。我在竞选中的亲身经歷,已经使我认识到这个问题。从小到大,我一直把对祖国始终不渝的、深切的爱视为理所当然的事。它是我从小接受的教育,是驱使我从事公务活动的动力,也是我竞选总统的原因。然而过去16个月来,我第一次发现有时候我的爱国主义受到挑战----有时是因为自己的疏忽,更多的时候是由于某些人企图挑起选民对我本人和我的立场的恐惧,捞取政治利益。
所以,我现在明确宣布,在这次竞选中,我决不会怀疑别人的爱国主义;但当其他人置疑我的爱国主义时,我也决不会置若罔闻。
然而,我关注的并不只是我自己。在我国歷史上发生的一些重大争论中,一些地位权力远远在我之上的人,其爱国主义也受到置疑。联邦党人指控汤玛斯.杰斐逊把美国出卖给法国。反联邦党人也坚信约翰.亚当斯是英国的同谋,企图恢复英王的统治。甚至我国的一些最明智的领袖,也企图利用爱国主义来为其错误政策辩护。亚当斯制定《外国人与叛乱法案》,林肯暂时中止人身保护令,罗斯福监禁日裔美国人,都被说成是爱国主义的表现,不赞同这些政策的人有时则被贴上不爱国的标签。
换句话说,把爱国主义当作政治上的剑或盾,与我们共和国具有同样悠久的歷史。然而,目前这场关于爱国主义的争论,与六十年代的文化战争具有明显的渊源关係。在民权运动和反战运动初期,维持现状的辩护士经常指控任何怀疑政府政策的人不爱国。同时,六十年代一些所谓的反文化人士,不仅批评政府的政策,而且攻击美国的标誌,在极端情况下甚至焚烧国旗。他们攻击美国的理念,谴责美国应为世界上的一切问题负责。也许最可悲的是,他们不尊重越战退伍军人。至今这仍是美国的羞耻。
大多数美国人并不接受这种过於简单的非左即右的世界观。他们明白,对政府的政策持异议并不等於不爱国,激端地不尊重美国的传统与体制,也不是明智之举。但六十年代的愤怒与骚乱并未销声匿迹。我们的政治似乎经常陷於这类老套的争论。最近关於伊拉克战争的争论,最明显地表现出这一点。反对政府政策的人被某些人贴上不爱国的标签,一位将军对伊拉克政策提出最宝贵的建议,却受到背叛的指控。
目前我们面临严重的挑战,再也经受不起这种分裂。没有人认为关於爱国主义的争论将会完全消失,因为这不仅是关於我们国家性质的争论,更是关於我们国家前进方向的争论。但我们的确有一项共识:没有哪个政党或政治学说能够垄断爱国主义的解释权。我们确实可以提出一个蕴涵美国共同精神精髓的爱国主义的定义,无论这种定义有多麼粗疏而且不完善。
这是一个什么样的定义呢?对於我以及大多数美国人来说,爱国主义开始於我最早记忆的一种内心的直觉,一种对国家的忠诚和爱。它不仅包括学校里的忠诚宣誓、感恩节的游行,或者国庆的焰火,这些东西可能非常美好,它更是指贯穿於我幼年家庭教育中的美国理念。
我记得最早的一件事,就是坐在外祖父的肩膀上,在夏威夷海滨欢迎阿波罗号太空人归来。我记得人们的欢呼声和他们挥舞的小国旗。外祖父告诉我,美国人能够实现自己的任何梦想。这就是我心目中的美国。
我还记得外祖母讲她二战期间在轰炸机装配工厂工作的故事。我记得外祖父把他在巴顿军队当兵时的身份识别牌送给我,使我明白保卫祖国是他引以最自豪的一件事。这就是我心目中的美国。
我还记得小时候在印尼,母亲为我朗读独立宣言的开头几行文字:“我们认为下面这些真理是不言而喻的:人人生而平等,造物主赋於他们若干不可剥夺的权利,其中包括生命权、自由权和追求幸福的权利。”她对我说,独立宣言适用於每一个美国人,无论是黑人、白人还是棕色人种,独立宣言以及美国宪法的文字保护我们免於遭受国外人民所受到的不公正待遇。这就是我心目中的美国。
长大以后,我逐渐知道我们国家存在种种缺点,例如持续不断的种族纷争,水门事件暴露的我国政治品德的堕落,密西西比三角洲与阿巴拉契亚山区的令人揪心的贫困等等。但我内心裡依然认为,美国是地球上最伟大的国家。这不仅因为美国的欢快生活与文化,它的生命力,它的生气勃勃,它的多样化,它的自由,总是超过它的缺点;而且因为美国之所以伟大,并非由於它完美无缺,而是由於人们相信它可以不断地得到改进。我开始明白,正是下述这些信念导致了美国革命:我们可以实行法治而不是人治,可以实行法律面前人人平等,可以畅所欲言,可以与任何人组团结党,可以信仰任何宗教,我们有权追求自己的梦想,同时有责任帮助我们的同胞追求他们的梦想。
我是一个黑白混血青年,在任何社区没有坚实靠山,甚至没有父亲的指导,正是这个重要的美国信念----我们不受出身偶然性的限制,能够按照自己的愿望生活----决定了我以及其它许多美国人的命运。
因此,对我来说,爱国主义并不只是忠於地图上某个地方或者某一类人,更是忠於所有美国人愿意捍卫、为之做出牺牲或者奉献一切的美国理念。我坚信,正是这种忠诚使美国把不同种族、族裔、宗教和习俗的人凝为一体。正是这些理念使美国与津巴布韦、缅甸和伊拉克这些国家区别开来。津巴布韦的反对党及其支持者遭到秘密追捕、酷刑和杀害。缅甸军政府害怕外国人进来救灾,使遭受可怕风灾的数万民众至今缺乏基本的食品和庇护所。在伊拉克,尽管我国军人的英勇努力和伊拉克许多普通人的勇气,伊拉克各派之间至今仍难以实现有限度的合作。
我认为,一些人攻击美国的缺点,却不承认美国理念的伟大,不承认这些理念能够鼓舞我们创造一个更好的世界,他们并没有真正懂得美国。
当然,正因为美国并不完美,正因为美国的理念要求我们不断进步,爱国主义永远不能定义为忠於任何领袖、政府或政党。正如美国最伟大的讽刺作家马克.吐温所说:“爱国主义总是支持你们的国家,但只有你们的政府值得支持时才会支持政府。”我们可以期待我们的领袖和政府恪守我们的理念,我国歷史上这种事屡见不鲜。但是,当我们法律、我们的领袖和我们的政府背离了我们的理念,普通民众表示异议可能就是爱国主义的一种最真实的表现。马丁.路德.金恩牧师领导的民权运动,帮助美国勇敢正视种族不公正的歷史悲剧,把我们的信念付诸实施,他是一位爱国者。一位青年军人最先揭露阿布格莱布监狱虐待囚犯,他是一位爱国者。承认以国家的名义犯下的错误,坚持遵守我国的宪法,这些都是爱国行动,因为他们捍卫的是美国最美好的东西。我们应该永远记住这一点,尤其是当我们不赞同他们,尤其是当他们的言论使我们不舒服的时候。
除了忠於美国的理念,除了根据这些理念对政府表示异议,我还认为,如果爱国主义有任何意义,它必须包括愿意牺牲,愿意为了一个更宏大的事业而放弃我们珍贵的东西。那些在我们的国旗下作战的人,那些华特.里德陆军医院裡的青年退伍军人,那些像马侃那样为美国服役而经受酷刑的人,根本不需要进一步证明自己做出的牺牲。而且,任何人都不应该贬低,特别是为了竞选而贬低这种服务的价值,双方的支持者都不应该这样做。
我们必须经常对我国军人的服务表示深切的感激。伊拉克战争确实带来了一件好事,那就是我们普遍认识到,无论是支持还是反对这场战争,我们部队所做出的牺牲总是值得崇敬。对于非军人或者没有亲人当兵的其他人,召唤他们为国家的更大利益而做出牺牲,仍然很有必要。可悲的是,近年来我国在打两场战争,政府却从未发出这种召唤。九一一之后,甚至在战争费用不断攀升之际,政府只要求我们购物,并为最有钱的人减税。我们没有团结起来,减少我国对外国石油的依赖,从而降低我们遭到某个动荡地区伤害的可能性。我们的能源政策丝毫未变,我们对外国石油的依赖性继续增大。
尽管缺乏政府的领导,新一代美国人正在响应这种召唤。我到处都遇到这些参加美国振兴计划的年轻人,这不仅指那些参军去远方为国家打仗的人,还包括那些在国内为改善美国而奋斗的人,他们有的去师资不足的学校任教,或者去人手不足的医院照料病患,或者在地方推动可持续能源的政策。
我认为,下届政府的任务之一,就是保障这个服务运动的不断持续和发展。在提高军人的福利之后,我们还应扩大美国志愿队和和平队,设立一项新的大学资助计划来鼓励青年人为国家服务。然而,我们必须记住,不可能光靠政府的几项计划来强行建立真正的爱国主义。相反,它必须驻扎在我们人民的心中,在我们文化的核心中培育,在我们儿童的内心里培养。
在我国进入第四个世纪之际,我们很容易把美国的卓越性视为理所当然。但我们的家长有责任通过家庭和学校,把美国的歷史逐渐灌输进到孩子的头脑中。我们很多学校缺乏高品质的公民知识教育,许多美国青年不知道我们先辈的事迹,也不知道他们制定的、奠定我国基础的文献的意义。先辈们全力以赴、冒著风险、做出牺牲,使我国打赢了战争,度过了经济萧条,展开了争取民权、社会权利和工人权利的伟大斗争,而许多儿童却对这一切一无所知。
我们需要教育孩子,让他们知道,尽管我们面临严重的挑战,尽管我们犯过错误,我们一定能团结起来,使我国变得更加强大,更加兴旺,更加团结,更加公平。我们需要教育他们,美国已成为世界上一支追求美好的力量,被其他国家和民族视为地球上最终的最佳希望。我们需要教育他们,返回自己社区服务是好事,在军队服役很光荣,参与民主政治活动、发出自己的声音,至关紧要。
我们需要教育孩子,使他们明白一个从政者经常忘记的道理:爱国主义不仅包括保卫我国不受外来威胁,还包括坚持工作,使子孙后代有一个更美好的美国。我们把债务积累如山,等待下一代去偿还,或者明知后果而拒不改变能源政策,这是把短期利益置于国家长远福利之上。如果我们不能通过教育使无数儿童在全球化经济中具有竞争力,或者不能投资基础科学研究以推动我国的科技创新,我们就可能使美国在世界排名中后退。正如爱国主义要求我们所有人把国家利益置于个人的眼前利益之上,还要求我们把子孙后代的利益置于我们自己的利益之上。
我们的最伟大的领袖们明白这个道理。他们对爱国主义的定义著眼於未来。乔治.华盛顿因为领导大陆军队有功而得到崇敬,但他的一项最伟大的爱国行动,就是担任两届总统之后坚决离职,为后来的总统树立一个模式,并提醒后来的总统,这是一个人民所有、人民统治和为人民谋利益(旧译﹕民有、民治、民享)的政府。
亚伯拉罕.林肯不仅打赢了一场战争,捍卫了美国的统一,而且不愿妖魔化他的战场对手,拒绝屈从於战争带来的仇恨或自以为是,坚持战后的美国不能继续保持那种一半奴隶一半自由人的制度。他相信我们天性中较好的一面,他的智慧与勇气为我们树立了一个爱国主义的典范。
哈里•杜鲁门离职前在白宫的告别演说中说:“富兰克林.罗斯福逝世时,我感觉一定有一百万人比我更有资格担任总统。但经过了所有这一切,经过我在这间办公室工作的所有岁月,我一直很清楚,我确实不是一个人在工作,你们在与我一道工作。没有人民的帮助和支持,任何总统也不能指望领导这个国家,或者承担这个职务的重担。”
最后,最准确描述我心目中的爱国主义的可能是下述品质:不仅抽象地爱美国,而且对美国人民有一种特别的爱和信心。我一看见我们的国旗就豪情满怀,一听到悲哀孤寂的葬礼号声就热泪盈眶,原因就在於此,因为我们知道美国的伟大,它的战争胜利,它的巨大财富,它的科学文化成就,都来自美国人民的能量与想象力,来自他们的勤劳、主动、奋斗、永不满足、幽默感和默默无闻的英雄主义。
我们捍卫的自由是人人追求自己梦想的自由。我们追求的平等不是结果的相等,而是人人机会的平等。我们始终相信,在我们努力建设的社会里,在这个我们所信任的、但有时有点混乱的民主社会裡,我们一定能心想事成,我们是一项更伟大事业的组成部分,我们以及所有拥戴美国特有信念的人的命运,已经交织在一起。
谢谢,上帝保佑你们,上帝保佑美国。
奥巴马演讲原文:
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: The America We Love
Independence, MO | June 30, 2008
On a spring morning in April of 1775, a simple band of colonists – farmers and merchants, blacksmiths and printers, men and boys – left their homes and families in Lexington and Concord to take up arms against the tyranny of an Empire. The odds against them were long and the risks enormous – for even if they survived the battle, any ultimate failure would bring charges of treason, and death by hanging.
And yet they took that chance. They did so not on behalf of a particular tribe or lineage, but on behalf of a larger idea. The idea of liberty. The idea of God-given, inalienable rights. And with the first shot of that fateful day – a shot heard round the world – the American Revolution, and America‘s experiment with democracy, began.
Those men of Lexington and Concord were among our first patriots. And at the beginning of a week when we celebrate the birth of our nation, I think it is fitting to pause for a moment and reflect on the meaning of patriotism – theirs, and ours. We do so in part because we are in the midst of war – more than one and a half million of our finest young men and women have now fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; over 60,000 have been wounded, and over 4,600 have been laid to rest. The costs of war have been great, and the debate surrounding our mission in Iraq has been fierce. It is natural, in light of such sacrifice by so many, to think more deeply about the commitments that bind us to our nation, and to each other.
We reflect on these questions as well because we are in the midst of a presidential election, perhaps the most consequential in generations; a contest that will determine the course of this nation for years, perhaps decades, to come. Not only is it a debate about big issues – health care, jobs, energy, education, and retirement security – but it is also a debate about values. How do we keep ourselves safe and secure while preserving our liberties? How do we restore trust in a government that seems increasingly removed from its people and dominated by special interests? How do we ensure that in an increasingly global economy, the winners maintain allegiance to the less fortunate? And how do we resolve our differences at a time of increasing diversity?
Finally, it is worth considering the meaning of patriotism because the question of who is – or is not – a patriot all too often poisons our political debates, in ways that divide us rather than bringing us together. I have come to know this from my own experience on the campaign trail. Throughout my life, I have always taken my deep and abiding love for this country as a given. It was how I was raised; it is what propelled me into public service; it is why I am running for President. And yet, at certain times over the last sixteen months, I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged – at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for.
So let me say at this at outset of my remarks. I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine.
My concerns here aren‘t simply personal, however. After all, throughout our history, men and women of far greater stature and significance than me have had their patriotism questioned in the midst of momentous debates. Thomas Jefferson was accused by the Federalists of selling out to the French. The anti-Federalists were just as convinced that John Adams was in cahoots with the British and intent on restoring monarchal rule. Likewise, even our wisest Presidents have sought to justify questionable policies on the basis of patriotism. Adams‘ Alien and Sedition Act, Lincoln‘s suspension of habeas corpus, Roosevelt‘s internment of Japanese Americans – all were defended as expressions of patriotism, and those who disagreed with their policies were sometimes labeled as unpatriotic.
In other words, the use of patriotism as a political sword or a political shield is as old as the Republic. Still, what is striking about today‘s patriotism debate is the degree to which it remains rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s – in arguments that go back forty years or more. In the early years of the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War, defenders of the status quo often accused anybody who questioned the wisdom of government policies of being unpatriotic. Meanwhile, some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself – by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day.
Most Americans never bought into these simplistic world-views – these caricatures of left and right. Most Americans understood that dissent does not make one unpatriotic, and that there is nothing smart or sophisticated about a cynical disregard for America‘s traditions and institutions. And yet the anger and turmoil of that period never entirely drained away. All too often our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments – a fact most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic, and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.
Given the enormous challenges that lie before us, we can no longer afford these sorts of divisions. None of us expect that arguments about patriotism will, or should, vanish entirely; after all, when we argue about patriotism, we are arguing about who we are as a country, and more importantly, who we should be. But surely we can agree that no party or political philosophy has a monopoly on patriotism. And surely we can arrive at a definition of patriotism that, however rough and imperfect, captures the best of America‘s common spirit.
What would such a definition look like? For me, as for most Americans, patriotism starts as a gut instinct, a loyalty and love for country rooted in my earliest memories. I‘m not just talking about the recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance or the Thanksgiving pageants at school or the fireworks on the Fourth of July, as wonderful as those things may be. Rather, I‘m referring to the way the American ideal wove its way throughout the lessons my family taught me as a child.
One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather‘s shoulders and watching the astronauts come to shore in Hawaii. I remember the cheers and small flags that people waved, and my grandfather explaining how we Americans could do anything we set our minds to do. That‘s my idea of America.
I remember listening to my grandmother telling stories about her work on a bomber assembly-line during World War II. I remember my grandfather handing me his dog-tags from his time in Patton‘s Army, and understanding that his defense of this country marked one of his greatest sources of pride. That‘s my idea of America.
I remember, when living for four years in Indonesia as a child, listening to my mother reading me the first lines of the Declaration of Independence – "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I remember her explaining how this declaration applied to every American, black and white and brown alike; how those words, and words of the United States Constitution, protected us from the injustices that we witnessed other people suffering during those years abroad. That‘s my idea of America.
As I got older, that gut instinct – that America is the greatest country on earth – would survive my growing awareness of our nation‘s imperfections: it‘s ongoing racial strife; the perversion of our political system laid bare during the Watergate hearings; the wrenching poverty of the Mississippi Delta and the hills of Appalachia. Not only because, in my mind, the joys of American life and culture, its vitality, its variety and its freedom, always outweighed its imperfections, but because I learned that what makes America great has never been its perfection but the belief that it can be made better. I came to understand that our revolution was waged for the sake of that belief – that we could be governed by laws, not men; that we could be equal in the eyes of those laws; that we could be free to say what we want and assemble with whomever we want and worship as we please; that we could have the right to pursue our individual dreams but the obligation to help our fellow citizens pursue theirs.
For a young man of mixed race, without firm anchor in any particular community, without even a father‘s steadying hand, it is this essential American idea – that we are not constrained by the accident of birth but can make of our lives what we will – that has defined my life, just as it has defined the life of so many other Americans.
That is why, for me, patriotism is always more than just loyalty to a place on a map or a certain kind of people. Instead, it is also loyalty to America‘s ideals – ideals for which anyone can sacrifice, or defend, or give their last full measure of devotion. I believe it is this loyalty that allows a country teeming with different races and ethnicities, religions and customs, to come together as one. It is the application of these ideals that separate us from Zimbabwe, where the opposition party and their supporters have been silently hunted, tortured or killed; or Burma, where tens of thousands continue to struggle for basic food and shelter in the wake of a monstrous storm because a military junta fears opening up the country to outsiders; or Iraq, where despite the heroic efforts of our military, and the courage of many ordinary Iraqis, even limited cooperation between various factions remains far too elusive.
I believe those who attack America‘s flaws without acknowledging the singular greatness of our ideals, and their proven capacity to inspire a better world, do not truly understand America.
Of course, precisely because America isn‘t perfect, precisely because our ideals constantly demand more from us, patriotism can never be defined as loyalty to any particular leader or government or policy. As Mark Twain, that greatest of American satirists and proud son of Missouri, once wrote, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." We may hope that our leaders and our government stand up for our ideals, and there are many times in our history when that‘s occurred. But when our laws, our leaders or our government are out of alignment with our ideals, then the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism.
The young preacher from Georgia, Martin Luther King, Jr., who led a movement to help America confront our tragic history of racial injustice and live up to the meaning of our creed – he was a patriot. The young soldier who first spoke about the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib – he is a patriot. Recognizing a wrong being committed in this country‘s name; insisting that we deliver on the promise of our Constitution – these are the acts of patriots, men and women who are defending that which is best in America. And we should never forget that – especially when we disagree with them; especially when they make us uncomfortable with their words.
Beyond a loyalty to America‘s ideals, beyond a willingness to dissent on behalf of those ideals, I also believe that patriotism must, if it is to mean anything, involve the willingness to sacrifice – to give up something we value on behalf of a larger cause. For those who have fought under the flag of this nation – for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country – no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides.
We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Indeed, one of the good things to emerge from the current conflict in Iraq has been the widespread recognition that whether you support this war or oppose it, the sacrifice of our troops is always worthy of honor.
For the rest of us – for those of us not in uniform or without loved ones in the military – the call to sacrifice for the country‘s greater good remains an imperative of citizenship. Sadly, in recent years, in the midst of war on two fronts, this call to service never came. After 9/11, we were asked to shop. The wealthiest among us saw their tax obligations decline, even as the costs of war continued to mount. Rather than work together to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and thereby lessen our vulnerability to a volatile region, our energy policy remained unchanged, and our oil dependence only grew.
In spite of this absence of leadership from Washington, I have seen a new generation of Americans begin to take up the call. I meet them everywhere I go, young people involved in the project of American renewal; not only those who have signed up to fight for our country in distant lands, but those who are fighting for a better America here at home, by teaching in underserved schools, or caring for the sick in understaffed hospitals, or promoting more sustainable energy policies in their local communities.
I believe one of the tasks of the next Administration is to ensure that this movement towards service grows and sustains itself in the years to come. We should expand AmeriCorps and grow the Peace Corps. We should encourage national service by making it part of the requirement for a new college assistance program, even as we strengthen the benefits for those whose sense of duty has already led them to serve in our military.
We must remember, though, that true patriotism cannot be forced or legislated with a mere set of government programs. Instead, it must reside in the hearts of our people, and cultivated in the heart of our culture, and nurtured in the hearts of our children.
As we begin our fourth century as a nation, it is easy to take the extraordinary nature of America for granted. But it is our responsibility as Americans and as parents to instill that history in our children, both at home and at school. The loss of quality civic education from so many of our classrooms has left too many young Americans without the most basic knowledge of who our forefathers are, or what they did, or the significance of the founding documents that bear their names. Too many children are ignorant of the sheer effort, the risks and sacrifices made by previous generations, to ensure that this country survived war and depression; through the great struggles for civil, and social, and worker‘s rights.
It is up to us, then, to teach them. It is up to us to teach them that even though we have faced great challenges and made our share of mistakes, we have always been able to come together and make this nation stronger, and more prosperous, and more united, and more just. It is up to us to teach them that America has been a force for good in the world, and that other nations and other people have looked to us as the last, best hope of Earth. It is up to us to teach them that it is good to give back to one‘s community; that it is honorable to serve in the military; that it is vital to participate in our democracy and make our voices heard.
And it is up to us to teach our children a lesson that those of us in politics too often forget: that patriotism involves not only defending this country against external threat, but also working constantly to make America a better place for future generations.
When we pile up mountains of debt for the next generation to absorb, or put off changes to our energy policies, knowing full well the potential consequences of inaction, we are placing our short-term interests ahead of the nation‘s long-term well-being. When we fail to educate effectively millions of our children so that they might compete in a global economy, or we fail to invest in the basic scientific research that has driven innovation in this country, we risk leaving behind an America that has fallen in the ranks of the world. Just as patriotism involves each of us making a commitment to this nation that extends beyond our own immediate self-interest, so must that commitment extends beyond our own time here on earth.
Our greatest leaders have always understood this. They‘ve defined patriotism with an eye toward posterity. George Washington is rightly revered for his leadership of the Continental Army, but one of his greatest acts of patriotism was his insistence on stepping down after two terms, thereby setting a pattern for those that would follow, reminding future presidents that this is a government of and by and for the people.
Abraham Lincoln did not simply win a war or hold the Union together. In his unwillingness to demonize those against whom he fought; in his refusal to succumb to either the hatred or self-righteousness that war can unleash; in his ultimate insistence that in the aftermath of war the nation would no longer remain half slave and half free; and his trust in the better angels of our nature – he displayed the wisdom and courage that sets a standard for patriotism.
And it was the most famous son of Independence, Harry S Truman, who sat in the White House during his final days in office and said in his Farewell Address: "When Franklin Roosevelt died, I felt there must be a million men better qualified than I, to take up the Presidential task…But through all of it, through all the years I have worked here in this room, I have been well aware than I did not really work alone – that you were working with me. No President could ever hope to lead our country, or to sustain the burdens of this office, save the people helped with their support."
In the end, it may be this quality that best describes patriotism in my mind – not just a love of America in the abstract, but a very particular love for, and faith in, the American people. That is why our heart swells with pride at the sight of our flag; why we shed a tear as the lonely notes of Taps sound. For we know that the greatness of this country – its victories in war, its enormous wealth, its scientific and cultural achievements – all result from the energy and imagination of the American people; their toil, drive, struggle, restlessness, humor and quiet heroism.
That is the liberty we defend – the liberty of each of us to pursue our own dreams. That is the equality we seek – not an equality of results, but the chance of every single one of us to make it if we try. That is the community we strive to build – one in which we trust in this sometimes messy democracy of ours, one in which we continue to insist that there is nothing we cannot do when we put our mind to it, one in which we see ourselves as part of a larger story, our own fates wrapped up in the fates of those who share allegiance to America‘s happy and singular creed.
Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
来源:CND      来源日期:2008-6-30       本站发布时间:2008-7-30
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