The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. But what we know - what we have seen - is that America can change. It was Islam - at places like Al-Azhar University - that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. This bond is unbreakable. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. Now let there be no doubt. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort. You make a big election about small things. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale.
We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. That's the promise we need to keep. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.
But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard God's spirit beckoning me. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters.
More to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on. And slowly, I came to realize that something was missing as well - that without an anchor for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart, and alone. That's the promise we need to keep. And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest.
Thank you very much everybody.