Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans.
Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important.
Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.
Albert Camus, a great humanist and existentialist voice, pointed out that to commit to a just cause with no hope of success is absurd. But then he also noted that not committing to a just cause is equally absurd. But only one choice offers the possibility for dignity. And dignity matters. Dignity matters.
Stripped of all platitude and illusion, Camus was saying we still have to fight. So for God’s sake, fight. And get angry if you need to get angry. A little anger is a good thing if it isn’t on your own behalf, if it’s for others deserving of your anger, your empathy. And if you see the wrong around you getting bigger and uglier, then speak up, and call that wrong by its true name. Learn to refuse, to dissent. And in demanding something more from yourself and from your society, you may be surprised to find that you are not entirely alone. That other voices are saying the same things, that others want the same things.
I know I’m supposed to say that there’s this great contrast and Obama hasn’t done enough, but I feel Obama was faced with some real problems that we hardly remember anymore: the extent of the financial crisis. I happen to think he has made great strides.
You know, people find a lot wrong with health care legislation, Fareed, as do I, the bill that’s passed. But I keep remembering something that Lyndon Johnson said. Once we pass it, we can always go back and amend it. And I feel it was an accomplishment to get a health care bill.
Historian Robert Caro, appearing on Fareed Zakaria’s show, on what LBJ could teach Washington today.