By Ashfaque Zaman
President Obama returned to his hometown Chicago on Tuesday, January 10th to give his farewell speech at the very same spot he had given his acceptance speech. The windy city was one that was not short of tears including the president himself, as the president received a standing ovation for one of the greatest farewell speeches. ICE Business Times highlights some of the of the leader’s poignant words.
- “Understand democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarrelled and compromised, and expected us to do the same.”
Obama expands upon the philosophies that make a democracy a platform for citizens to agree to disagree, respecting one another’s views.
- “For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection, and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.”
In a time when the nation is divided with the election results and an uncertain tomorrow, Obama ushers the necessity for unity in order to prosper.
- “For native-born Americans, it means reminds ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles.”
Calling on white Americans to acknowledge the racism, prejudice and stereotypical attitudes that effect equality, Obama effectively draws the comparison that was once geared towards European immigrants during the industrial revolution.
- “Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power.”
Obama points out that acknowledging the existence of the Consitution is simply not enough; the nation must uphold the values that their founders have built the nation upon.
- “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab the clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere.”
Addressing the alarming 40% that didn’t vote during the previous election while eloquently calling for a change in administration, Obama draws attention for the nation’s citizens to play a more active role in the political forecast of America.
- “You have been my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and you made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor.”
Taking a moment to acknowledge Michelle Obama and how she had effortlessly taken the role of the first lady, leaving her own mark on the national landscape with her own efforts.
- “Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America. You know that constant change has been America’s hallmark; that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace.”
Recognizing that the youth is the future, Obama calls on the younger generation to embrace a changing America and usher progress.
- “I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.”
Although he is arguably the most powerful man in the world for the next week or so, Obama ignites the idea that each individual can incite the vision they want to see in the world if they believe.