copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert
At times, what is true for us, is not valid for those we cherish. The individuals we love most, who may have guided us through our life travel, do not experience the world as we do. People, even Pastors, are not always [W]right; nor are they necessarily wrong. People have perspectives, perceptions, and pain. Sadly, we humans, breakable beings that we are, are easily hurt. We rant and rage as we fight to survive. Souls are fragile. No one can save us, not G-d, or self. The enemy is within. The Almighty may give us tools. However, he cannot lead us from the temptation to defend ourselves when we believe we are wounded. Nor can the Lord help us to understand how, when we harm one, we injure many. Barack Obama understands this to his core. The hopeful Presidential aspirant addressed this truth.
When a person, such as Doctor Pastor Reverend Wright is lambasted, he can and will either lay down and die or he will attack those who he believes attempted to mortally mutilate him. Few will simply remain silent when they feel as though they have been repeatedly stabbed. As serene as a man of the church may think himself to be, he too is human. Jeremiah Wright, in recent days, has offended many. He damaged the reputation of friend and foe. The learned scholar, wise as he may be, is as flawed as we all are.
It is difficult to watch a man fall from grace and perchance it is more of a challenge to criticize one intent on self-preservation. This has been the dynamic for Presidential hopeful Barack Obama. How do we denounce the words of a man we have long respected without demeaning the character of a tragic hero. Today, the potential Commander-In-Chief did so in a speech.
I invite your review, reflection, and responses. If we as a nation are ever to heal all that divides us, we must speak of what our shared concerns. Barack Obama has done this.
The full transcript is offered. Please peruse the speech.
Obama’s Remarks on Wright
The following is a transcript of a press conference held by Senator Barack Obama in response to recent statements by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., as provided by Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign.
Senator Barack Obama: Before I start taking questions I want to open it up with a couple of comments about what we saw and heard yesterday. I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That’s in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That’s who I am. That’s what I believe. That’s what this campaign has been about.
Yesterday we saw a very different vision of America. I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday. You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either.
Now, I’ve already denounced the comments that had appeared in these previous sermons. As I said, I had not heard them before. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church, he’s built a wonderful congregation, the people of Trinity are wonderful people, and what attracted me has always been their ministry’s reach beyond the church walls. But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the United States’ wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me, they rightly offend all Americans, and they should be denounced. And that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.
Let me just close by saying this, I — we started this campaign with the idea that the problems that we face as a country are too great to continue to be divided; that, in fact, all across America people are hungry to get out of the old, divisive politics of the past. I have spoken and written about the need for us to all recognize each other as Americans, regardless of race or religion or region of the country; that the only way we can deal with critical issues like energy and health care and education and the war on terrorism is if we are joined together. And the reason our campaign has been so successful is because we had moved beyond these old arguments. What we saw yesterday out of Reverend Wright was a resurfacing and, I believe, an exploitation of those old divisions.
Whatever his intentions, that was the result. It is antithetical to our campaign, it is antithetical to what I am about, it is not what I think America stands for, and I want to be very clear that moving forward Reverend Wright does not speak for me, he does not speak for our campaign. I cannot prevent him from continuing to make these outrageous remarks, but what I do want him to be very clear about, as well as all of you and the American people, is that when I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. It contradicts everything that I’m about and who I am. And anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who has read my books, who has seen what this campaign’s about, I think will understand that it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country.
Last point, I’m particularly distressed that this has caused such a distraction from what this campaign should be about, which is the American people. Their situation is getting worse. And this campaign has never been about me. It’s never been about Senator Clinton or John McCain. It’s not about Reverend Wright. People want some help in stabilizing their lives and securing a better future for themselves and their children, and that’s what we should be talking about. And the fact that Reverend Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage for three or four consecutive days in the midst of this major debate is something that not only makes me angry, but also saddens me.
May we each hold those who we most revere in our hearts and remember, it is hard to be human. While we may be made in G-d’s image, we are certainly not as close to perfection as we envision the Lord to be, no matter our calling.
Barack Obama, Reverend Wright, and References . . .