I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premiums by up to $2500 a year. But there's a story I want to share that takes place before Moses passed the mantle of leadership on to Joshua. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. And he does not bring up a specific issue. At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's.
Religious leaders like my friends Rev. Jim Wallis and Rabbi David Saperstein and Nathan Diament are working for justice and fighting for change. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
In a sense, what brought me to Chicago in the first place was a hunger for some sort of meaning in my life. It's a journey that takes us back to our nation's founding, when none other than a UCC church inspired the Boston Tea Party and helped bring an Empire to its knees. The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."
You're on your own. We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world - tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate.
My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. I'm hearing from progressives who understand that if we want to communicate our hopes and values to Americans, we can't abandon the field of religious discourse. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."
God bless you.