Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mr. Obama addresses the U.N. (a speech encompassing of a sustainable world).

President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. I did not get the chance to watch the address live but I received a transcript of his speech. From what I can tell, his speech encompassed the idea of a sustainable world rather unintentionally and exclusively. Maybe I am reading into his intent, and I have heard critics say we have not made much progress or paid much attention to sustainability, but I rather read into what I see and let the works of our leaders stand on their own ground in the sustainability context.

Sustainability is about people, planet, and profit. Mr. Obama addressed these in various places of his speech. He began by a brief mention of human rights absolved from social and economical or civil and political ideas, but he emphasized this concept of human dignity in the context of peace and security of the global status.

… today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this [U.N. General Assembly] institution. The UN’s Founding Charter calls upon us, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” And Article 1 of this General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ Those bedrock beliefs – in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women – must be our guide.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. I have been thinking about the differences in Eastern and Western philosophical thinking and tradition; and I have dwelled on the idea that Confucian ideas may be inconsistent with the concept of equal dignity. I accept this now fully and completely – not that Confucius is wrong to advocate for social order and birth rights of authority, it may have worked for the time and the context but in an age of global communication and recognition of universality of human rights, I’d say Confucius thoughts ought to be reevaluated.

Mr. Obama then goes on to address economic issues.

To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity. In this effort, let us not forget that we have made enormous progress over the last several decades. Closed societies [China] gave way to open markets. Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we can do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions from poverty. Yet three years ago, we confronted the worst financial crisis in eight decades. That crisis proved a fact that has become clearer with each passing year – our fate is interconnected; in a global economy, nations will rise, or fall, together.
Preside Obama acknowledges the fact that China has brought over 300 million people out of poverty. I’ve long tried to address this significant achievement and its incomprehensible scale. China has less than 7% of the world’s cultivatable land and is obligated to feed more than 20% of the world’s population. From the days of the Great Famine in 1958 – ’62, China has come a long way in economic and equity growth. I can honestly say all of this progress would not have been possible but for the socialist nature of the country’s political system. I do not advocate for the change of regime in China, I only advocate for responsible and peaceful unification of China to transition to a global standard within the context of Sustainability

Outside of China, President Obama is leading the U.S. foreign policy in a positive direction. He goes on to commit our assistance to places where children are in desperate need of food. The “freedom from want” is a basic human rights and I am glad that Mr. Obama has recognized this right independent from civil and political ones and perhaps a superior right that predetermines our ability to prosper within a fundamental social and economic right.

To combat the poverty that punishes our children, we must act on the belief that freedom from want is a basic human right. The United States has made it a focus of our engagement abroad to help people to feed themselves. And today, as drought and conflict have brought famine to the Horn of Africa, our conscience calls on us to act. Together, we must continue to provide assistance, and support organizations that can reach those in need. And together, we must insist on unrestricted humanitarian access so that we can save the lives of thousands of men, women and children. Our common humanity is at stake. Let us show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other. That is what our commitment to our fellow human beings demands.
Mr. Obama then directed his attention to our environmental concerns.

To preserve our planet, we must not put off the action that a changing climate demands. We must tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. Together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all of the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers are economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands.
I am not surprised to see his devotion to our civil and political rights in a global context. China may be quick to point to social and economic rights under its socialist regime, they have yet reconciled with the possibility of a robust civil and political freedom in their policies. I don’t fault China as much as I don’t fault the U.S. for not having a universal health care or a robust economic equity program – it is simply the nature of the political system and we are hopefully walking to the same direction with the same focus of positive progress in mind. Here is to high hopes.

And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the cancer of corruption. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That is why we have partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on Open Government that helps ensure accountability and empower their citizens.

No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere. And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.
In his conclusion:

It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn this lesson over and over again. Conflict and repression will endure so long as some people refuse to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet that is precisely why we have built institutions like this that bind our fates together – because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war; freedom is preferable to suppression; and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That is the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens.

When the corner-stone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, “The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.” As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that is a lesson that we must never forget.

Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. Together, let us resolve to see that it is defined by our hopes and not our fears. Together, let us work to make, not merely a peace, but a peace that will last. Thank you.

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