“We have obligations towards the old and infirm because their work in their earlier and more fruitful years has made it possible for us to enjoy the standards we enjoy today – because they have done their share in making our present life possible. We have obligations towards the young because if we fail to provide for them, we fail to provide for the future, because it will be the duty and the privilege of those who are young today to make a still better world for tomorrow.We have obligations towards the sick and the ailing because they cannot care for themselves. And when those obligations have been fully discharged, when those unable to provide for themselves have been provided for, it is our duty to ensure that those who do the useful work of the world enjoy the full reward of their toil”.They are powerful words, and they remain as relevant today as they were when they were first spoken.
“Men and women are not free to develop their own souls, to express their own individual personalities, to contribute according to their individual capacities to the world’s cultural inheritance – they are not free to do any of these things so long as the fact and fear of economic insecurity confronts them. Only when this fear is removed do they become in the fullest sense of the term a free people. We cannot reasonably expect the flowering of the higher attributes of humanity in a society that is diseased at its roots. Squalor, destitution, unemployment, slums, malnutrition, ill health, insecurity – these are diseases of the body politic which must be stamped out fearlessly and without equivocation before we can hope to build on foundations that are spiritually as well as materially secure”.
They don't make politicians like that anymore, because none of the current crop of politicians would dare to give a speech like that today. If you read the speeches of Key and Goff the tone is very different. Short, simple statements, and lots of repetition. Nowadays speeches are designed to be hard-hitting and effective, rather than beautiful.
In these times, when commentators, experts and bloggers analyse everything that is said by our leaders, when the cycle of news is a 24 hour one, and when the sheer volume of information coming at us is overwhelming (we even know which politicians bought flowers, and for whom, for chrissake), the emphasis is on the simple and the bite-sized.
It makes you realise when you read the works and speeches of these great men what we have lost, and how incapable our current leaders are of inspiring us. You may vote for a Key or a Goff, but are you a believer?