Epigraph: O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Indeed, the most honorable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware. (Al Quran 49:14)
President Barack Hussein Obama speaking in UN
In the concluding part of his speech at UN today he said:
We’re ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges with you, firm in the belief that all men and women are, in fact, created equally, each individual possessed with a dignity and inalienable rights that cannot be denied. That’s why we look to the future not with fear, but with hope, and that’s why we remain convinced that this community of nations can deliver a more peaceful, prosperous and just world to the next generation.
To every American and every student of history, these words about inalienable rights, remind of the wording of US Declaration of Independence in 1776, “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.”
In America over the decades and centuries these rights have been considered to be for every American. This may be the first time that these words have been used by a sitting American President for every citizen of our planet earth.
President Obama built up to his conclusion in his forty five minute speech, which covered Syria, Iran, Libya, Israel and Middle East. Just before recognizing the individual dignity of everyone of us in the words, “We’re ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges with you, firm in the belief that all men and women are, in fact, created equally, each individual possessed with a dignity and inalienable rights that cannot be denied,” he built to this moment by saying:
Ultimately, this is the international community that America seeks: one where nations do not covet the land or resources of other nations, but one in which we carry out the founding purpose of this institution and where we all take responsibility. A world in which the rules established out of the horrors of war can help us resolve conflicts peacefully and prevent the kind of wars that our forefathers fought. A world where human beings can live with dignity and meet their basic needs whether they live in New York or Nairobi, in Peshawar or Damascus.
These are extraordinary times with extraordinary opportunities. Thanks to human progress, a child born anywhere on Earth today can do things can 60 years ago would have been out of reach for the mass of humanity. I saw this in Africa, where nations moving beyond conflict are now poised to take off, and America is with them, partnering to feed the hungry and care for the sick, and to bring power to places off the grid.
I see it across the Pacific region, where hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty in a single generation. I see it in the faces of young people everywhere who can access the entire world with a click of a button and who are eager to join the cause of eradicating extreme poverty and combating climate change, starting businesses, expanding freedom, and leaving behind the old ideological battles of the past.
That’s what’s happening in Asia and Africa. It’s happening in Europe and across the Americas. That’s the future that the people of the Middle East and North Africa deserve as well, one where they can focus on opportunity instead of whether they’ll be killed or repressed because of who they are or what they believe.
And time and again, nations and people have shown our capacity to change, to live up to humanity’s highest ideals, to choose our better history.
Last month, I stood where 50 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. told America about his dream at a time when many people of my race could not even vote for president. Earlier this year, I stood in the small cell where Nelson Mandela endured decades cut off from his own people in the world.
Who are we to believe that today’s challenges cannot be overcome when we’ve seen what changes the human spirit can bring? Who in this hall can argue that the future belongs to those who seek to repress that spirit rather than those who seek to liberate it?