The following was originally given as a speech on March 1, 2010 at the Cambridge Union Society.
I want to thank Cambridge University for inviting me to speak to you this evening. It is always a joy and privilege for me to come to the United Kingdom.
I have treasured memories of my earliest visits marching with Bishop Huddleston and Bernie Grant and Diane Abbott against apartheid in Trafalgar Square in the early 1980's. Later I met with Prime Minister Thatcher when I was on my way to South Africa to witness Mandela gaining his freedom from prison.
On February 15, 2003, I was proud to march with former Mayor Ken Livingstone and two million opponents of launching an illegal, unnecessary war on Iraq, and imploring Tony Blair from the stage in Hyde Park not to ruin his legacy by blindly backing George W. Bush.
More recently, I joined with Equanomics UK, an organization that measures societal inequality and advocates for closing the gaps, as we went on a nine-city tour throughout the UK to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of Britain's Slave Trade Act. We visited the Liverpool Slavery Museum, and talked at every stop about the legacy of Wilberforce and the abolitionists.
Some of you may remember my visit a year ago, when the Rt. Honorable Keith Vaz and his staff skillfully reunited me with a now-grown-up Stuart Lockwood, a former child hostage who had refused to sit on Saddam Hussein's knee, and whom I had rescued and brought back to London.
I've recently had the honor of receiving honorary fellowships at Regents Park College at Oxford and Edge Hill University, and to meet last year with Prime Minister Brown.
Now it is a distinct privilege to be able to engage and share with you scholars tonight--students, faculty, staff--at this prestigious, world-renowned educational institution, whose alumni have played such a huge role in the way the modern world sees itself.
I am very honored to be here. I grew up in the segregated South in Greenville, South Carolina, behind what I call the "Cotton Curtain." Some how, some way, thanks be to the Grace of God, I was able to emerge from behind those walls and barriers, to make the long journey to Cambridge to be with you this evening.
A New UK
I was recently in the Netherlands, Germany and Brussels, and the past few days in London. What struck me is we live today--especially you young people--in an emerging new Europe, a new Britain. It's far different from the one of your parents and the Churchill generation. That Europe related to Jamaica and the Caribbean, India, China, Bangladesh, Nigeria or South Africa, as "colonies and colonized people," living under the sting of apartheid.
These former colonized people became Britain's newest immigrants, and now its newest citizens, with their cultures, languages--and brought their hopes, dreams, energies and interests to the UK.
Your generation now relates to Britain's newest residents as neighbors, classmates, business partners, MP's, voting partners.
There are three million Blacks and Ethnic Minorities in the UK today, growing to some eight million in the next decade. 22% are living in poverty. In large degree, they are marginalized and, like in the U.S., face structural inequalities in criminal justice, education, employment, health care - nearly every social, economic, political and educational category in the life of our two great nations.
These structural disparities are well documented by Equanomics UK:
1. 25% of white children live in Poverty in England, but 56% African, 60% Pakistani, 72% Bangladeshi children, far too high a percentage for any of our communities.
2. Compared to a White British Christian man with the same qualifications, age and occupation, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim men and Black African Christian men have pay 13-21 per cent lower.
3. Pakistani and Bangladeshi households have a median equivalent net income of only £238 a week compared to the national median of £393. Nearly half are below the poverty line.1
It is not enough to observe these structural inequality gaps; we must close them through recommendations formulated in the Racial Justice Manifesto produced by a coalition of the UK's leading other policy organizations.
As the Black and ethnic minority population grows, so too will their voting and political power, and their demand for equality and a level playing field. Taken together, this vote, as it has in the U.S., can determine the margin of victory for the UK's upcoming elections.
So forging a new UK--one that is inclusive and sets a level playing field for all of its people--brings forth new challenges and opportunities. As the UK and Europe seek to re-emerge and restore their economies shattered by the global banking crisis, it should not be at the expense of Britain's Black and ethnic minority population.
In the past we learned a bad lesson well: how to survive apart, with "us and them" polarization. We must now unlearn that bad lesson, and learn a new lesson well: to live together, to choose co-existence over co-annihilation.
It is in England's national interest to lift up those who are locked out - to tear down walls of separation and exclusion and build new bridges. Britain's new leaders, the emerging leaders of your generation, are challenged to move away from living in isolation, governing in isolation - and to commit to forging a multi-cultural, multi-racial, inclusive society, a one-big-tent Britain and a one-big-tent Europe.
Tears of Joy & History
When I came to Britain one year ago, people asked me about our then-brand-new president, Barack Obama. The 2008 election marked a maturing of America. We had taken a big step towards overcoming America's original sin, a nation founded largely on slavery by slave owners, bearing the mark of 400 years of slavery and segregation and apartheid.
In President Obama, we chose a leader of vision, keen intellect, a new president with a high moral compass. He sees the world through a door, not through a keyhole. Barack Obama ran a brilliant campaign, the fast last lap of a long, long relay.
In that great moment in history, many forces converged in my consciousness, in my memory bank--and my lifetime of experiences. And I wept as I wished just for one moment the countless, nameless marchers and martyrs who sacrificed so much could share this victory, their victory.
I just wished for one fleeting moment that my mentor, my teacher Dr. King could have been in Chicago that night, if only for a moment to share the joy. I thought of the martyrs who gave their lives trying to register Blacks to vote in the South, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Medgar Evers, Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney, Voila Liuzzo. Their struggles, their martyrdom, made Barack Obama's victory possible. When I thought of them, the tears rolled down my face. Tears of joy. Tears of history.
50 Years of Struggle
It's a long journey from the segregated South to the Cambridge Union Society. Tonight I think back on my own first arrest for nonviolent civil disobedience, fifty years ago this summer, trying to use a public library in my home town of Greenville, South Carolina.
Just a few weekends ago I was in Greensboro, North Carolina, to dedicate a new museum dedicated to the four students who sat down to integrate a lunch counter on February 1, 1960--fifty years ago--in an act that electrified the young people of America.
This weekend we commemorate Bloody Sunday 45 years ago, where attack dogs and fire hoses were unleashed on people marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama. The historic voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery that followed led to the enactment of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Voting Rights Act is commonly seen "for Blacks"--but the changes it inspired helped heal the whole society. White women could not serve on juries in much of the South; farmers couldn't vote unless they paid poll taxes. 18-year olds couldn't vote yet--that came five years later.
Bilingual voting came five years after that. College students won the right to vote where they went to school, which allowed the Obama campaign to organize dormitories as precincts.
When we ran for president in 1984 and 1988, we changed the Democratic Party rules from winner-take-all to proportional representation, which later made Barack Obama's 2008 victory possible.
These changes were for everybody in America, not for Blacks only. So those who would try to eliminate Black history are off base.
The United Kingdom's history is the slave trade--as well as leading the way in the abolishment of the slave trade. The U.K.'s history is the colonization of India, as well as the liberation led by Gandhi.
Britain's history is apartheid in South Africa, as well as the long road to freedom of Nelson Mandela. British history is Black history is inextricably bound with Britain's history.
Mature Whites in Britain must rebel against others trying to limit your history and heritage. Especially for those of you who are young, an expanded, inclusive history will be a big factor in your own destiny.
Free but Not Equal--Globalizing Human Rights
Today we are free, but not equal. Today we are caught in a global economic crisis. We have globalized capital, but we have not globalized human rights. We have not globalized workers rights. We have not globalized rights for women, rights for children, environmental protections.
Freedom was not the only goal of our struggle; it was a prerequisite to equality. Yet today our technological wizardry has outstripped our morality. We need to mesh new technology with timeless moral values. We need to build bridges, and close the gaps.
Let me give you an example--why do African-Americans do so well in athletics? We excel in basketball, football, baseball, golf, tennis, track. Well, the playing field in athletics is level for everyone. The rules are clear, and published. The referees are unbiased and fair.
So when we went to the Olympics in Beijing, we won our fair share of medals. The winners won with grace, the losers lost with dignity. There were no aftershocks of racism.
But in the economic realm, the referees are missing, the rules are not clear, the playing field is tilted. So when African-Americans try to compete in finance, to work on Wall Street, to trade with China, suddenly the results are biased.
Capital can move quickly, seek out poverty wages and slave labor, leave behind devastated communities and unfathomable pain. Finance circles the globe at the click of a button, and trillions in wealth can disappear or move offshore in moments.
Monopoly capital has solidified its global control of media, banks, telecommunications--and it uses its monetary clout to dominate our politics, trying to overwhelm one-person, one-vote democracy with corporate power. We see this in the U.K., with billionaires quietly investing big money to target marginal districts.
We saw it recently in the U.S., where a small cadre on the Supreme Court, by one vote overturned a century of precedents, freeing corporations to spend unlimited sums targeting their opponents in elections, and undermining the spirit of American democracy. The Lockean principles of checks and balances, separation of powers, are undermined.
The financial crisis was global, pushing the U.S., UK and Europe, Asia, the world banks to the brink of collapse. Jobs vanished at the whims of a small elite of corporate "banksters;" unions were devastated; nations were played off against weaker nations.
Financial services companies merged and purged. A classic consumer run to withdraw deposits led to Northern Rock's collapse. Abbey National took over the Bank of Scotland. Barclays moved to gobble up the Woolwich.
But greed never resolves its own contradictions. A globalized capitalist system is not magically self-correcting.
The modern day system of finance capital collapsed. That system failed. And it put in peril millions upon millions of every day working people in the U.S., Great Britain, and around the world.
But the American and European governments bailed out failing banks with massive capital infusions. They said, "Banks are too big too fail." The UK government injected upwards of £850 billion of taxpayers cash into the likes of Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and HBOS.
And now corporations on both sides of the ocean are issuing billions of dollars in bonuses to their executives who led their companies into fiscal ruin and nearly bankrupted whole nations.
Our systems are so intertwined that whether we are in England or France, the Netherlands, or the US, the same systems of top-down exploitation required the same massive bailouts.
The big banking system was re-fortified, reinforced; now it needs to be restructured. The democratic principles of checks and balances, separation of powers, oversight and regulation must be applied.
We don't want to diminish the creativity of capital; but we must not diminish the significance of regulations and a fair referee; nor of a strong public infrastructure. Remember the Marshall Plan, with its reconstruction bank, 50-year loans at 2%, government-secured. The Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe's roads, rails, bridges, ports--and set the stage for a renewed prosperity, and for peace.
This is a change moment, a time to remake the world's financial systems. When creditors become predators, it's time for a new global economic agenda. We must democratize capital, and globalize participation. The freedom struggle was not just for freedom; it was a prerequisite to equality and justice.
Now is our time to pass a "Robin Hood" tax on financial speculation. Now is our chance to globalize human rights and workers rights, protect women and children, save the global environment. Now is our chance to democratize capital and media, to pass the structural economic changes that were untouched by the freedom struggle's political reforms.
Too few people control too much capital and media, leveraging too much political influence for a healthy democratic outcome. Yet new wine--your generation, more diverse, more global, more tolerant--will not fit into old wineskins.
Mid-Day in Our Politics, Midnight in Our Economy
President Obama took office with the nation and world mired in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression -- the global markets were on the brink of collapse. By December 2008, the end of the Bush Era, 800,000 Americans per month were losing their jobs -- nearly eight million were left unemployed these past few years.
Roots of the crisis:
1. Banks overturned regulations in place since the 1930's, and used "deregulation" to post record profits.
2. Arrogance and unbridled greed and quest for profits by any means necessary.
3. Congress and federal regulators, fueled by financial contributions from Wall Street (or seeking private Wall Street jobs after they left office), aided and abetted the crisis, and fell asleep at the wheel while the crisis overwhelmed the US and world like an economic tsunami.
4. Our Department of Justice failed to enforce fair lending and civil rights laws--cornerstone legal victories won by Dr. King and the civil rights movement in the 1960s--and allowed discriminatory, predatory lending practices to victimized Blacks and other people of color.
5. Fundamentally, the crisis is rooted in an unprecedented era of unchecked, modern day finance capitalism--free market philosophy, absent any government intervention and regulation--which drove the global economy to the brink of collapse. Globalized banking and technology were not coupled with integrity and honest values.
Government must play a stronger role, not a lesser one--we've seen the disastrous economic crisis resulting from that philosophy. It must intervene to regulate, and enforce needed checks and balances to curb unmitigated greed. It must intervene to protect the majority from the tyranny of the ruling minority.
People want government policies that preserve economic security and equity in our homes and pensions. They want government to protect jobs; provide health care; promote democratic and just values; protect our environment thru prompt attention to curbing global warming;
A government and economic system that bridges gap between rich and poor; a government that defends and protects civil and human rights at home and abroad.
President Obama's financial bailout staved off global economic collapse--it was the right thing to do. But its weakness was that the bailout was not linked to loans; it was top-down, not bottom-up.
The banks were "trusted" to extend credit; they should have been "mandated" to do so. The banks need to not just be reinforced, but to be restructured, as Franklin Roosevelt did.
Equanomics: I have mentioned the term "Equanomics" - coined by our British affiliate Equanomics UK - which is a fusion of equality and economics. Equanomics measures the economic consumer power of Black and ethnic minorities; it measures equality and the economic costs of inequality.
What we have found is the same systems, with the same results, in both the U.S. & the U.K. For example:
The current costs of tackling educational underachievement, unemployment and their over-representation in school exclusions and in the Criminal Justice System were calculated to be about £808 million a year (PWC research for the REACH report 2007)
£100 million per year costs in London alone for the overrepresentation of Blacks in mental health units (Sainsbury Centre)
Yet by 2011 the economic worth of Black, Asian and minority communities will be as much as £300 billion. Black and Asian consumers are also estimated to earn up to £156 billion after tax income, with young men being the bigger consumers and spending £32 billion every year.
We need to democratize our political and economic systems. Time will tell if the solutions pursued by the UK and European governments pass the "equity" test, and hold true to the universal value that the "mark of a good democracy is how well it treats the least of these in society."
Where Do We Go From Here?
When President Obama spoke in Egypt, he argued correctly that we must find ecumenical common ground, and not allow anyone to misuse the name of any religion as a cover for terrorism. All religions have "characters" who go too far; but the "character" of each religion should not be maligned because of individual abuses.
We must help the President in his fight for health care for all. Health care reform is morally right; it will be cost-efficient; it will ease the lives of many of the 50 million Americans without health care and 50 million more without catastrophic health care.
But it is a challenge to the powerful status quo, so President Obama is meeting stiff headwinds of resistance. The health care, pharmaceutical and insurance industries have blocked reform--so far.
But President Obama is meeting stiff headwinds of resistance. We elected him, in a magnificent, multi-racial grassroots victory, but the fight is far from over.
And as we confront the global economic calamity, I'm always reminded that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. authored the essay, "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?" An ascendant civil rights movement organized the1963 March on Washington, the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery--a movement that led to passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. But by January 1967 when he wrote the "Where Do We Go from Here?" essay, the civil rights struggle was on its heels, searching for direction and strategy.
His query is especially appropriate right now, with the dialectics of crisis and opportunity so prevalent in our world.
Just one year ago, people in the U.S. voted for change and a new direction, breaking down old barriers of cynicism, doubt and disbelief.
Now stiff winds of resistance are blowing from all directions. It's been some time since we've witnessed such a sustained, ideologically inspired campaign to smear and vilify a president, to drown out rational public debate and discourse, and circumvent the people's desire for progressive change--even going so far as to question the president's citizenship!
Wall Street got bailed out, but unemployment is rising. Foreclosures are rising. Student loan debt is rising. Hope is up, too, but unfortunately so is poverty.
Yes, it's mid-day in our politics, but midnight in our economy. We must have the clear vision and strong will to ride out the storms of the long night until the sun rises and we reach the dawn of a new day.
Perhaps we should go to our Biblical mission statement:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed...
Bring good news to the needy...
We stopped the bleeding at the top; now we need a bottom-up reconstruction plan. Smaller, targeted reconstruction for banks that can live within regulation, oversight, consumer protection and lending laws.
We need to create economic recovery that targets the zones of pain. The original stimulus focused on the zones of gain. They've watered the leaves at the top, but not the roots at the bottom. We need direct, targeted jobs programs, and the expansion of lending to spur small business development. It is time to focus on helping those who are the victims of, not the cause of, the crisis.
Care for the Sick...
By enacting comprehensive, accessible and affordable health care for all Americans. Republicans have taken a stand to crush the health care bill. Blue Dog conservatives and powerful corporate interests have taken a stand to circumvent and undermine it. So now progressives must stand up and fight for inclusion of the public option and create the public support the President and Congress need to pass a comprehensive health care bill before year's end.
As we learn from each other and share, your national health care insurance model has great appeal. It provides access to quality health care for your people--we could learn much from you.
In our Rainbow campaigns of 1984 and 1988, I campaigned from coast to coast for comprehensive health care for all at a time when "only" 37 million Americans were without health insurance. Twenty years later, that number has risen to a totally unacceptable 45 million. We must do better, and now is the time.
House the Homeless...
By confronting the home foreclosure crisis threatening to tear the heart and soul of America's communities. A record high four million families will face foreclosure this year alone, but another 15 million homeowners will face foreclosure in the next few years.
We need a comprehensive, effective foreclosure prevention/save our homes program to reduce the principal owed on loans, not just reduce monthly payments--to protect not just the most distressed families in their time of need, but also to protect their neighborhoods, the community tax base, the public services which depend on having a healthy housing infrastructure.
We see this crisis in some measure in all of the Western countries. Your moratorium on home foreclosures was a positive step forward.
Where do we go from here?
A New War on Poverty to Set the Oppressed Free...
We have similar systems in the U.S. & the U.K., and they have produced similar results on the inequality front. Let me just give a couple of examples from my own country, the richest nation on earth:
- eight million families and 40 million Americans, or 13%, live in poverty.
- fourteen million children under 18 are in poverty.
- in 2008, 49 million people didn't have enough to eat, including 17 million children.
Wars Kill Reform Movements
Dr. King understood that the Vietnam War was not just killing people overseas, but was killing people in our barrios and ghettoes back home. The war on Vietnam killed the War on Poverty, and ruined President Johnson's Great Society legacy.
The president's new policy of escalating and expanding the war in Afghanistan is risky and expensive, and, despite a projected date to begin troop withdrawal, there is no end in sight. The war on terror a real one, but it's a 21st century problem that cannot be "won" by using 20th century strategies of military conquest. In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dr. King made these time-tested remarks:
...Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time--the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.
We hope the president's plan is successful, and pray for the earliest return home of the 100,000 troops who will be sent to war in Afghanistan... but doubts abound.
Increasingly Western powers are investing more and more in military, with fewer and fewer returns. It is as if we were trying to kill the mosquitoes without draining the swamp of poverty and pain and fear and rejection.
We react to the manifestation of terrorism, but ignore the conditions that breed it.
Haiti Is the Creditor, Not the Debtor
We owe a great debt to the Haitian people who now deserve aid for to rebuild and reconstruct their nation.
I visited Haiti last month just after the earthquake. The devastation was unimaginable. The institutions of Haiti were in rubble. But the world has been generous, the people are patient, enduring, tough in the face of this monstrous disaster, and hope is alive that Haiti can rebuild, renew, and revive.
Part of Haiti's plight is that it remains on the poor end of the world's economic inequality scale. Global capital has created a few massive winners, while millions and even billions of people have been left behind by the world economy.
Now is a time to re-visit Haiti's history--because Haitians fought to help America in its Revolution. And it was Haiti that struck the first big blow against Napoleon's plan for world domination. Not only that, but Haiti's successful slave uprising, led by Touissant L'Overture, the first such successful rebellion in world history, forced Napoleon to conclude that he could not keep France's Western colonies under control.
The result was that he sold the Louisiana Purchase to President Thomas Jefferson, which eventually led to the creation of all or part of 14 new states in America. Then, Jefferson imposed a trade embargo on Haiti.
Haiti helped defeat Napoleon. The U.S. and the U.K. both owe much to Haiti's slave uprising two centuries ago. That makes Haiti the creditor, not the debtor.
Yet France never forgave Haiti, and the United States never rewarded it. Instead, they forced Haiti to pay billions in reparations, not fully paid off until 1947. Think of that--the enslaved paid reparations to the colonizer.
Because Haiti was the only free Black republic in the world in the early 1800s, the imperial nations of the world conspired to try to kill off the idea of a free Haiti.
France even shamefully kidnapped L'Overture, and he died in a French jail. Later, the U.S. helped to kidnap President Aristide, forcing him onto a plane in the middle of the night that secretly landed him in the Central African Republic.
Haiti is the creditor, not the debtor.
And remember this--San Francisco had an earthquake at 7.6, where 63 died. Chile just had a horrible earthquake, at 8.8, less than a thousand have died so far. Yet when Haiti had an earthquake at 7.0, more than 200,000 died.
The difference was not the size of the earthquake--it was the depth of the poverty. We need to keep up our generosity, but push our nations not just to relieve and rescue Haiti, but to allow it to reconstruct from the bottom up.
Africa Is a Creditor Continent
This is even truer for Africa, which, like Haiti, is the creditor, not the debtor. Much of the wealth of America and Europe came from the slave trade and slave labor. Wealth inequality persists today that stems directly from the immorality and unfairness of colonialism and slavery. Africa is the creditor continent, not the debtor.
Even worse, it is Africa that will apparently pay the most immediate and highest price for the global warming caused by the industrial world. Along with many former enslaved colonies in the Caribbean, rising waters and changing weather patterns will devastate poor countries, hitting them hard while too much of the developed world continues to debate whether climate change is even a reality.
This is unacceptable. It is stupid and immoral. I applaud Gordon Brown for his leadership on this issue, and I encourage him to push harder, to hold America and China's feet to the global fire. Help us save ourselves, and everyone else. As James Baldwin warned us, it's the fire next time.
We need debt relief and AIDS assistance and debt cancellation for the world's poorest nations. We need clean water and vaccinations for Africa, inexpensive changes that would vastly improve the lives of billions of our poorest neighbors.
We need fair trade, under a newly regulated economic system open to all nations. The developed world needs to get serious about stopping global warming, because too much of Africa and too many small island nations are beginning to pay the price for a problem they did not cause.
Europe, you can help America do better. When you invest more and give more to Africa, it makes it harder for my nation not to do the same. When you express reasonable disagreement about Afghanistan, and reasonable doubt about the prospects for success, you give us more room to maneuver at home.
When you invest more in alternative energies and green technologies, to fight global warming, it makes it much more difficult for America to pretend we are doing all we can to stave off disaster.
While the US and others continue to see Africa with slave-tinted lenses, China is now its most substantial economic investor, creating alliances destined to be a factor in the emergence of Africa as a world power.
A Rainbow World
The world is a rainbow of people. The U.S. and the UK are becoming more diverse with each passing year. Our younger generation in America is more tolerant, more diverse, more exposed to the larger world than their elders. That's a good thing, and it showed in our last elections, where young people led the way in a change election.
Remember: When President Bush and Prime Minister Blair got together a few years ago to decide to invade Iraq, that was a minority meeting.
When the big financial institution heads get together in New York or London, that's a minority meeting, too.
The U.S. & the U.K. together represent only 5% of the world, one out of every 20 people.
Yet as all of you know, half the world lives in Asia, with almost half of them in China.
A billion people live in India, next door to their foe, Pakistan--and both are armed with weapons of mass destruction.
One-eighth of the world lives in Africa, and a quarter of those people live in Nigeria, where AIDS, hunger, disease, and now global warming are devastating the continent.
My country is not even a majority in our own hemisphere, where more people speak Spanish than English, and almost as many people speak Portuguese.
Too many Americans do not realize--and perhaps too many Europeans as well do not yet realize--that most people in the world are black, brown, yellow, young, female, non-Christian, and don't speak English.
The formerly colonized peoples are now moving into the once-all-one-ethnic-group societies. This is Europe's big challenge for the future, and the U.K.'s big challenge, to build a new nation, to choose inclusion.
We must unlearn an earlier lesson we learned to well--how to survive apart. We must learn a new lesson--how to live and prosper together, choosing inclusion and growth. A comprehensive policy of inclusion is the roadmap to a new England, to serve the emerging, diverse world.
If we do not begin to live in peace, develop from the bottom up, and take seriously the limiting capacities of our fragile globe, we will not make it as a species to the end of this century.
We must find common ground. Common ground leads to coalition, to cooperation, to reconciliation and redemption, to higher ground. The challenge of this new world, so connected by technology, is yours to bear, yours to share.
Dream Beyond Your Circumstances
The prophet Isaiah speaks of beauty from the ashes--where ashes abound beauty must abound even more. Where hatred abounds, love must abound even more. Where fear abounds, love and hope must abound even more. Fear limits us--hope unleashes creative genius.
I want to say to you young people especially--keep reaching beyond your grasp, keep dreaming beyond your circumstances, keep dreaming of a new Europe. When young people move, the world changes.
Dream beyond your age. Dr. King was only 26 when he took on the leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott. Jesus was only 33 when he died. Dream beyond your age.
Dream beyond your race and ethnicity. Build coalitions. Without an active and vocal worldwide movement for change, we cannot make our hopes for a new world a lasting and concrete reality.
When twelve abolitionists met together two-and-a-quarter centuries ago in London to fight back against the profitable slave trade, few thought they would succeed. But they persisted, Wilberforce prevailed, and the slave trade was soon ended. Dream a new world.
When the suffragists chained themselves to the fences of the powerful a century ago, few thought that women would soon win the right to vote. But they did, putting their bodies on the line for justice--and now women's rights fuel change in all parts of the globe. Dream a new freedom.
When Rosa Parks sat down on that Montgomery bus in 1955, when those four students in Greensboro, North Carolina, sat down at that lunch counter in 1960, when Dr. King marched across that bridge in Selma, Alabama, few believed that they would succeed.
But morality triumphed, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed, and America got better, not bitter. Dream a new justice.
As Dr. King taught us:
Vanity asks: Is it popular?
Politics asks: Will it win?
Morality and conscience ask: Is it right?
So dream of a new day.
Dream of a new way.
Dream of a new Britain, an emerging Europe.
Go forward by hope and never backward by fear. Keep faith--in the end, faith will not disappoint.
Keep Hope Alive!