Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's Inaugural Address

A little word assumes a central role early in Obama's inaugural address, and curiously, it is not to first appearances a strong one:

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.
The challenges will not be conquered; not vanquished; not eliminated; not mastered; not even overcome, with all its resonances with the civil rights struggle. Variants of meet appear again and again as the speech progresses.

As applied for foreign affairs:
Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations.
As applied to domestic initiatives:
We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.
As applied to the broadest statement of approach:
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.
The word's last appearance solves the puzzle and brings the curious diction in line with the broader theme of carrying our best traditions into the future. Obama quotes George Washington:
“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”
Meet turns out to be as formidable as we need.

1 comment:

Bpaul said...

Very interesting observation sir.