For your New Year’s Eve festivities: an inspirational speech from a great leader

Summary:  As we start a new year we can gain courage by looking at the good aspects of our past and the glimmers of good fortune that lie in our future. They are conjured by our myths from the dry pages of history so that we remember who we are.

Morpheus speaking to the people of Zion

From The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Believe me when I say that we have a difficult time ahead of us.
But if we are to be prepared for it, we must first shed our fear of it.
I stand before you now, truthfully, unafraid.
Because I believe something you do not?
I stand here because I remember.
I remember that I am here not because the path that lies before me,
but because of the path that lies behind me. …
Tonight, let us make them remember, THIS IS America AND WE ARE NOT AFRAID!


What I believe

As we start a New Year I find it useful to review my core beliefs. It is easy to lose sight of such things amidst the clatter of daily events.

  1. We are a people with a great past.
  2. The challenges ahead are no greater than those behind us.
  3. The American people can surmount these challenges if we work together.
  4. We will be what we wish to be, if we make the necessary effort.
Walking into the Future
Walking into the Future. © Saniphoto | Dreamstime.

Lessons from our past can give us New Year’s Day inspiration:

Here are some posts about good news. See others at Good news about America.

Some good news (one of the more important posts here)  –  I do not believe we need fear the future, despite the tough times coming soon.  This remains a great nation, not because of our past but because of us and our polity.  We differ from almost every other nation.  The difference consists of our commitment to our political order, of which our Constitution is the foundation.  In this we are like Athens more than our neighbors …

Is America’s decline inevitable? No! – Why be an American if one has no faith in the American people?  How can you believe in democracy without that faith?

Let us light a candle while we walk, lest we fear what lies ahead — Many people look to the future with fear. We see this fear throughout the web. Right-wing sites describe the imminent end of America: overrun by foreigners, victim of cultural and financial collapse. Left-wing sites describe “die-off” scenarios due to Peak Oil, climate change, and ecological collapse – as the American dream dies from takeover by theocrats and fascists.  Most of this is nonsense, but not the prospect of massive changes in our world. But need we fear the future?

Fears of flying into the future. — Reasons we need not fear the future.

The good news of history: it’s a story of less violence & better societies.

One of the 20th century’s top minds sees a great 21st century for humanity — Optimistic words from the greatest economist of the 20th century.

Good news: the singularity approaches! — Amidst the gloom that envelopes both Left and Right, evidence grows that another discontinuity in history approaches — a singularity. If so, it will evaporate many of today’s problems and create new ones.

Good news: a new industrial revolution has begun! — Let’s let’s look at the new industrial revolution. Our experience with the last industrial revolution shows us the potential and peril that lies ahead. It will be exciting. Let’s work to make it fun, not painful.

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7 thoughts on “For your New Year’s Eve festivities: an inspirational speech from a great leader”

  1. I agree, with a minor change.

    We are a people with a great past.
    The challenges ahead are no greater than those behind us.
    The HUMAN RACE can surmount these challenges if we work together.
    We will be what we wish to be, if we but make the necessary effort.

  2. Since America’s “great past” involves torturing and murdering genocidal numbers of native American indians, lynching bulk quantities of blacks and Jews and Chinese immigrants, and shooting down strikers like dogs using the army and the militia, the greatness seems dubious.

    The notion that history involves pure will and not good fortune certainly comes from Schopenhauer — it’s a distinctively German fantasy, “the world as will and idea.” Out here in the real world, doing things successfully requires being in the right place at the right time with the right tools, and that requires large amounts of good fortune.

    Upon arriving on the continent, America’s white people found themselves equipped with high technology in a largely empty land surrounded by uniquely quiescent neighbors who didn’t seem hell-bent on conquest (Mexicans, Canadians), shielded by two vast oceans from the most predatory and advanced nations of earth, and faced with a thin population of low-tech aborigines and a vast array of animals and plants and other natural resources.

    This is known as “good luck.”

    America today does not find itself in such a fortunate position and as a consequence it’s successes have come to a grinding halt. It seems presumptuous and frankly foolish to suppose that merely wishing, or reaching down into alleged depths of character to dredge up True Grit in good 19th century pulp western fiction fashion, will avail Americans in accomplishing anything today.

    Bluntly put, Americans got lucky for about 150 years. Then their luck ran out. There is no reason to believe that anything different will happen to Americans today than happened to other nations who got exceptionally lucky and then ran out of luck. As, for instance, the Spanish who got incredibly lucky when Pizarro conquered the Incas and brought home a fabulous fortune in gold. When their luck ran out and the gold got spent, Spain descended into several hundred years of self-destructive Grand Inquisition and general collapse and decline.

    The same future likely awaits America. In fact, we are already engaged in another Grand Inquisition — this one misnamed The Global War On Terror.

    1. Thomas,

      “Since America’s “great past” involves torturing and murdering genocidal numbers of native American indians, lynching bulk quantities of blacks and Jews and Chinese immigrants, and shooting down strikers like dogs using the army and the militia, the greatness seems dubious.”

      Great point! 19th century US history is a horror show for all but the 1%. The first 3 decades of the next century were selectively better, but still no party.

      By great history I mean WW2 and the years afterwards until Vietnam and the crash of the Great Society.

    2. True, basically, but interpretation of human history is very relative.

      By any measure, through history, most peoples’ life experience can be described by one word: SUFFERING. (Stolen from Prof. Milton Friedman)

      So, our/American history is really bad; except when compared to all the other countries’/civilizations’ histories. (Yes, the US has had some really good luck).

      (Note on American Indians’ fate- more bad luck- if Europeans hadn’t killed them in wars, etc., more would have died by disease. It is likely more American Indians died from communicable diseases transmitted from Europeans than were killed intentionally. A thorough study of historical references will prove this point.)

      Again, on the point of being relativistic- do we have some really bad problems? Like compared to HItler, Hirhito, Stalin? If you think so, we’ll have to disagree.

      We are living through a long cycle down term. Compared to past epochs, this is a picnic for sure.

      1. Wkevinw,

        While true, I think you are using a different frame of reference than most of us. Defining “bad” as Hitler is like saying cold is absolute zero. I say it’s cold outside, and you say it’s warm compared to Pluto. Well, yes — but…

        Ditto by comparing economic levels of today’s poor & middle class vs those before the industrial revolution — or to less developed nations now. The relevant point is that given our technology we should be doing better, and our social and political systems can be improved using hard-won knowledge of and since the Enlightenment.

  3. FM: “The American people can surmount these challenges if we work together.”

    This is true, but it is also more difficult than at any other major point in US history.

    The challenges range from the current popularity of individualism (“I don’t need anybody else and will not work to help anybody else achieve their goals”) to targeted marketing that allows individuals with money to pick apart opposing coalitions with unprecedented power and accuracy (in politics it is far easier to destroy than build and right now we are politically in a very “they created a desert and called it peace” mode).

    Most of our political leaders are working for agendas that favor certain individuals over the welfare of the country. This makes sense because the political leaders are increasingly bought by small coalitions of very wealthy people. I should note that these coalitions frequently work against each other.

    Our news services serve us poorly (at our request) or feed us an increasingly inaccurate stories (the Ebola scare, global warming, Obama is a Muslim) that serve the needs the plutocrats. You know we are in trouble when the likes of George Lucas (“so this is how democracy dies”) and Taylor Swift become political guiding lights.

    Our government spies on us and seeks to cause dissention in small groups so they make examples for us to fear. This is the single most disastrous outcome of 9/11. As Boyd said, “always seek to enhance the strength of your coalitions,” fear is a strong glue in the short run but becomes increasingly corrosive over time.

    I do not list all of these issues because I think that they are any greater than the challenges faced in the past but to explain why it will take decades of ever greater abuse for the situation to evolve to the point where we, as a people, can hear Morpheus’ words and act on them. And the results are very unlikely to be similar to that of our ancestors.


    Side note: I believe the Republicans are going to discover in the next few months that their strategy of capturing both the Senate and the House in 2014 is going to cost them the White House in 2016. The primary point of unity for the Republicans has been McConnell’s strategy of “No” and that is no longer applicable.

    Now they MUST show that they can govern effectively while the Democrats block them and fermenting ambitions of key members to be the next President bubble in the background. This task is beyond their current level of cohesion and it would not surprise me if the Republicans effectively cease to be a party in 2016, and become nothing more than a convenient rallying point for right-wing slogans and rabble-rousers.

    Unfortunately the Democrats are not in great shape either. Yes, they are unified around Hillary but she will quickly become the 5th term of George W. Bush and the Democrats will crumble under the burden of bearing that message. At the same time, the Republicans will be able to once again embrace the strategy of “No” and nothing will noisily get done.

    The struggle for the future of America is now being fought at the state and major city government levels, which is why outside funding for mayoral, governor, and state legislature elections hit a peak in 2014 and will be much larger in 2016.

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