Not his best speech, or the best video montage, but it struck me today as I watched. It’s the same choice now, I think. Basically.
I saw the happy lemurs in the earlier pony party thread and the discussion of whimsy, and almost took this down! But it’s one of those moments in our time where the hinges creaked, the door moved open or shut, the world changed.
And this, 416 words from his Capetown speech in 1966, which I could find nowhere online in full, sharable video format. I was two years old when he spoke these words:
In a few hours, the plane that brought me to this country crossed over oceans and countries which have been a crucible of human history. In minutes we traced migrations of men over thousands of years; seconds, the briefest glimpse, and we passed battlefields on which millions of men once struggled and died. We could see no national boundaries, no vast gulfs or high walls dividing people from people; only nature and the works of man — homes and factories and farms — everywhere reflecting man’s common effort to enrich his life. Everywhere new technology and communications brings men and nations closer together, the concerns of one inevitably become the concerns of all. And our new closeness is stripping away the false masks, the illusion of differences which is at the root of injustice and hate and war. Only earthbound man still clings to the dark and poisoning superstition that his world is bounded by the nearest hill, his universe ends at river’s shore, his common humanity is enclosed in the tight circle of those who share his town or his views and the color of his skin.
It is your job, the task of the young people in this world to strip the last remnants of that ancient, cruel belief from the civilization of man.
Each nation has different obstacles and different goals, shaped by the vagaries of history and of experience. Yet as I talk to young people around the world I am impressed not by the diversity but by the closeness of their goals, their desires, and their concerns and their hope for the future. There is discrimination in New York, the racial inequality of apartheid in South Africa, and serfdom in the mountains of Peru. People starve to death in the streets of India; a former Prime Minister is summarily executed in the Congo; intellectuals go to jail in Russia; and thousands are slaughtered in Indonesia; wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere in the world. These are different evils; but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfections of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, the defectiveness of our sensibility toward the sufferings of our fellows; they mark the limit of our ability to use knowledge for the well-being of our fellow human beings throughout the world. And therefore they call upon common qualities of conscience and indignation, a shared determination to wipe away the unnecessary sufferings of our fellow human beings at home and around the world.
Comment, discuss, and be excellent to one another…Dr. Turing (it’s jessical in the mechanical turk today for 9 and 3 pacific) is in the lab and will be back with ponies as time allows…