Friday, February 05, 2010

Hillary's Moving Keynote Speech at the 58th National Prayer Breakfast

On Thursday, February 4th, 2010, Secretary Clinton gave the keynote address at the 58th National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Those in attendance added up to over 4,000, over 140 different countries, including the Prime minister of Spain, and of course President Obama and Vice President Biden.

The lead issue in Secretary Clinton's address was unsurprisingly Haitian relief. She applauded the international response, attributing it to the "zenith of our character and the best of our faith." She also focused on the darker side of religion, reminding her audience that so much violence is carried out in the name of God: "But religion, cloaked in naked power lust, is used to justify horrific violence, attacks on homes, markets, schools, volleyball games, churches, mosques, synagogues, temples."

She reflected back to her own faith tradition, talking about her childhood and the motto to live by. As a Hillary fan its great to get this glimpse into her spiritual side:

As Amy said, I grew up in the Methodist Church. On both sides of my father's family, the Rodhams and the Joneses, they came from mining towns. And they claimed, going back many years, to have actually been converted by John and Charles Wesley. And, of course, Methodists were methodical. It was a particularly good religion for me. (Laughter.) And part of it is a commitment to living out your faith. We believe that faith without works may not be dead, but it's hard to discern from time to time.

And of course, John Wesley had this simple rule which I carry around with me as I travel: Do all the good you can by all the means you can in all the ways you can in all the places you can at all the times you can to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. That's a tall order. And of course, one of the interpretive problems with it is, who defines good? What are we actually called to do, and how do we stay humble enough, obedient enough, to ask ourselves, am I really doing what I'm called to do?

It was a good rule to be raised by and it was certainly a good rule for my mother and father to discipline us by. And I think it's a good rule to live by, with the appropriate dose of humility. Our world is an imperfect one filled with imperfect people, so we constantly struggle to meet our own spiritual goals. But John Wesley's teachings, and the teachings of my church, particularly during my childhood and teenage years, gave me the impetus to believe that I did have a responsibility. It meant not sitting on the sidelines, but being in the arena. And it meant constantly working to try to fulfill the lessons that I absorbed as a child. It's not easy. We're here today because we're all seekers, and we can all look around our own lives and the lives of those whom we know and see everyone falling so short.

She ended her speech on a powerfully moving set of words. She talked a bit about her "honeymoon" with Bill and her family and then her "second honeymoon" with Bill in Haiti:

In 1975, my husband and I, who had gotten married in October, and we were both teaching at the University of Arkansas Law School in beautiful Fayetteville, Arkansas - we got married on a Saturday and we went back to work on a Monday. So around Christmastime, we decided that we should go somewhere and celebrate, take a honeymoon. And my late father said, "Well, that's a great idea. We'll come, too."

And indeed, Bill and I and my entire family - (laughter) - went to Acapulco. We had a great time, but it wasn't exactly a honeymoon. So when we got back, Bill was talking to one of his friends who was then working in Haiti, and his friend said, "Well, why don't you come see me? This is the most interesting country. Come and take some time." So indeed, we did. So we were there over the New Year's holidays. And I remember visiting the Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, in the midst, at that time, so much fear from the regime of the Duvaliers, and so much poverty, there was this cathedral that had stood there and served as a beacon of hope and faith.

After the earthquake, I was looking at some of our pictures from the disaster, and I saw the total destruction of the cathedral. It was just a heart-rending moment. And yet I also saw men and women helping one another, digging through the rubble, dancing and singing in the makeshift communities that they were building up. And I thought again that as the scripture reminds us, "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed."

As the memory of this crisis fades, as the news cameras move on to the next very dramatic incident, let us pray that we can sustain the force and the feeling that we find in our hearts and in our faith in the aftermath of such tragedies. Let us pray that we will all continue to be our brothers' and sisters' keepers. Let us pray that amid our differences, we can continue to see the power of faith not only to make us whole as individuals, to provide personal salvation, but to make us a greater whole and a greater force for good on behalf of all creation.

So let us do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, to all the people we can, as long as ever we can.

Read her full remarks here or watch below:


Jackie said...

Hillary looked so beautiful in that red color, and I love her hair like that.

Hillary's speech was very moving, she never fails to inspire.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Jackie, she's beautiful and the only REAL DEAL in this administration!
Watch her tomorrow sunday on CNN at 9amET.

Anonymous said...

That's a great speech! I hope my parents won't follow me to the honeymoon when I get married.

Stacy said...

I still think she's one of the best public speakers we have, bar none. She makes Obama look very scripted. She really does connect with her audience in a unique way.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you 100%!


Post Your Comment Below:

Grab this Widget ~ Blogger Accessories