The Forces that Divide Us Are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us

You’ve probably seen part or all of President Obama’s speech at the memorial service on Jan. 12 for the victims of the shooting in Tucson. I thought it was one of the finest speeches I have ever heard from a president.

Today, as we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose dream was that we could "sit together at the table of brotherhood,” I hope you agree with me when I affirm the president’s words that “the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”

From President Obama’s speech:

If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives - to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here - they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

The text and video of the speech are available at:

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