This past week, Pomona College alumna Esthela Brimmer (International Relations) gave the commencement speech at Albany State University. It is rather nice summation of all the wishful thinking inherent in modern progressivism. I won't bore you by quoting all of it, but I thought you might find it instructive to see just what a Pomona education can get you. You can see some of the Hegelianism of it all, with arcs of history and all that silliness. Note how Barack Obama is the supposed ancestor of Martin Luther King Jr. and all things warm and fuzzy. Actions matter, indeed, and President Obama hasn't done anything at all to earn his Nobel Prize, Dr. Brimmer!
Dr. Height had an incredible influence on my life arc. As did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose leadership and influence, like that of Dr. Height, transformed history and the arc of the world we live in today.
It was not lost on me as a student at Pomona College in California, and then at the University of Oxford, that when Dr. King spoke about justice and peace in the United States -- he was not only speaking to the American people but to a world audience.
When Dr. King said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice -- he wasn't just referring to the civil rights struggle or morality in America, he was also speaking about the universal pursuit of freedom and the advancement of human rights, dignity and security.
It was Dr. King's 1964 Nobel Prize lecture in which he spoke passionately about the pursuit of international peace and justice, which served as a catalyst as I pursued a career in public service and eventually led me to my position today as Assistant Secretary of State.
As a student, searching for my own path, I determined early on that I wanted to be part of the arc of global peace and justice that has been the bedrock of our nation's foreign policy over the last century - from President Theodore Roosevelt who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906, for leading negotiations that ended the Russo-Japanese War to President Woodrow Wilson's effort to form the League of Nations to Eleanor Roosevelt's leading role in the creation of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Dr. King's 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and in a new century President's Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.
President Obama's call for a new era of engagement is a continuation of the arc of history whose trajectory was directed, shaped and spurred on by 20th century leaders including, Dr. King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi and others who chose to pursue peace, dignity, justice and hope in the face of violence, hatred and fear. We have all been the beneficiaries of their moral and physical courage
As the world grows smaller in this new era of engagement, we cannot talk solely about addressing freedom from fear without seeking solutions to freedom from want.
President Obama was right when he said, "the absence of hope can rot a society from within." That is why this Administration is focused on 21st century solutions to address human development and human security needs.
Today the United States is working, with the United Nations and international partners, to eradicate global hunger insecurity and poverty and taking critical steps to meet worldwide goals to provide healthcare, education, sanitation and shelter to those people in need - giving hope to many where it does not exist.
In his Nobel Lecture last December, President Obama echoing Dr. King said, "our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice." Class of 2010 -- President Obama was speaking directly to you. Actions do matter whether they are big or small, local or global.
Actions matter, as we address the common global challenges confronting humankind including, climate change, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the global financial crisis, poverty, and protection of human rights.
Actions matter, as we try to help millions of families around the world, living in or near conflict zones seek peace and security for their children and future generations.
Actions matter, when local peanut farmers in Georgia band together to provide food aid to hungry Haitians devastated by a catastrophic earthquake.
Actions matter, when the President of the United States holds an historic summit with 49 leaders in April, and they agree to take effective measures to secure nuclear material, and to prevent nuclear smuggling and terrorism.
Class of 2010, will the trajectory of your arc be one of action and enlightened self-interest, like that of Dr. Betty Height and Eleanor Roosevelt, who selflessly answered the call of their day, organized and built lasting institutions of peace, and movements for justice, that forever changed our nation and the world we live in?
In the global community we live in today, collective action matters, it matters because humankind needs each other more than ever.
The arc of global responsibility has grown exponentially over the past decade - but so has the price of inaction and indifference.
The United States or any nation for that matter alone -- cannot stop deadly flu viruses from crossing the world or prevent genocide and mass atrocities from occurring in places such as Darfur or Rwanda. We need a common approach to common threats and universal solutions to universal problems.