I have a fascination with speeches. Maybe even venturing onto the obsessive. Crafted paragraphs, focal points and rhythmic flow, can occasionally touch upon one of the greatest gifts within the human spirit.
Seeing a world beyond initial sight.
One such speech that I dip into from time to time is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Inaugural Address 1937. This contradictory character may have had some public moral flaws. (As do we all). But his pursuit of being the standard-bearer for those ignored, remains today an inspiration for my own fragile steps.
“…here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens — a substantial part of its whole population — who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.
I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meagre that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.
I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half a century ago.
I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.
I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions.
I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.
It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope… We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest and concern…
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.