We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.
Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.
We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
Despite the brevity and vagueness with which the President regarded environmental topics/action items in his speech, certain points he made should be highlighted for their profundity:
- ...the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations: In this statement, President Obama really hits at the unselfish truth of the matter - that we, as citizens, have a responsibility to take care of our Earth not only for our good, but for our children who are to inherit this planet after we are gone. The implications of sitting idle and doing nothing to resist the further destruction of Earth could be extremely hazardous, and even fatal, for our children and grandchildren. It is a terrifying thought, and one that any parent should have a hard time coming to terms with. *Next time you think about throwing your cheeseburger wrapper out of the car window or spraying down your hair with tons of hairspray before going to the annual Christmas party, think about what effect it might have on your children and grandchildren. No effort is too small to result in a big change.*
- ...America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it: This is the President's big call to action! Not only is it inspiring in its demands, but it plays into our emotions by forcing us to reflect on the damages, destruction, and loss caused by recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, that have affected our country personally. He suggests (through this demand/call for action) that in the wake of natural disasters, we have a responsibility to help one another and work together to re-build/re-plant that which was lost.
- ...our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God: These two sentences have so much greatness and meaning in them, and yet, were probably lost among the hundreds of other words President Obama shared with the public yesterday. Firstly, his choice of wording is exquisite as he refers to the land, water, and agriculture as our "treasure" - ah, how beautiful the world would be if we all revered our natural habitat as such!
Lastly, it is so refreshing to hear the most powerful voice of our country emphasizing the Biblical command that humanity act as stewards of the land. To be a steward of the land means to embrace it as a gift, cultivate it responsibly (taking of it only that which is necessary for survival), sharing it justly with others, and ensuring its abundance for the next generation.
January 21st, 2013 marked another historical milestone for the United States as President Obama was sworn in for his second term of presidency and as he (yet again) proved to be an emotional and inspiring speaker.
It just wouldn't be right to end this article without mentioning the other reason why January 21st is such an important date in history - for it is the day we as Americans have set aside to remember and celebrate the great Martin Luther King Jr. Like President Obama, MLK Jr. was another (and arguably the best) inspirational speaker of our history.
In honor of the King, who's life - but not his message - was cut way too short:
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
--Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have A Dream," August 28, 1963
To read the full transcript of President Obama's second inaugural speech, go to: