Like millions around the world, I viewed President Obama announce the death of Osama bin Laden last night. It was a message that progressed from a sense of relief and justice to perspective and caution and, finally, to inspiration.
Though this idea of “justice” is controversial and questionable when looking at humanity as a whole, it was the last bit of President Obama’s speech that reminded me of the words of another famous individual. The closing paragraphs last night were an echo of Bono’s monologue prior to playing “One” while on the U2 Vertigo tour in Chicago 2005. President Obama and Bono each referred to a very different defining event in American history, but both of them reminded us of a not-yet-extinguished and (I believe) a still-defining characteristic of the American people.
The key parts:
President Obama’s speech (start at 8:26)
Bono’s monologue (Start at 0:33. End at 1:10)
If you cannot access the videos (well worth the view), here are the transcripts of both:
“…today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.
…But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
– President Obama
“When I was a boy, my first impression of America, was a man walking on the moon. I thought… I thought, ‘These Americans are mad. They are mad.’ But I thought. ‘What can this country do… What can these people do when they put their mind to it. It’s incredible.'”
To be clear, the idea that the death of a man symbolizes “justice” is not one that is easy to comprehend. It’s an idea that people are struggling with today… as they should. However, it was the last bit of President Obama’s speech that I focused on. As this is a medical blog, you might be able to infer to what specific endeavor I feel Americans should really set their mind in order to show the greatness of the country’s abilities to reach its collective hopes and dreams….
P.S. Listen to the whole song “One.” Let’s combat poverty, malnutrition, poor health, social injustices. Most of all, let’s combat complacency, which is a greater enemy.
*pictures from Wikipedia