Remarks by the President at the National Prayer Breakfast

Civility also requires relearning how to disagree without being disagreeable; understanding, as President [Kennedy] said, that “civility is not a sign of weakness.” Now, I am the first to confess I am not always right.  Michelle will testify to that.   But surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith, or, for that matter, my citizenship.

Challenging each other’s ideas can renew our democracy.  But when we challenge each other’s motives, it becomes harder to see what we hold in common.  We forget that we share at some deep level the same dreams — even when we don’t share the same plans on how to fulfill them.

We may disagree about the best way to reform our health care system, but surely we can agree that no one ought to go broke when they get sick in the richest nation on Earth.  We can take different approaches to ending inequality, but surely we can agree on the need to lift our children out of ignorance; to lift our neighbors from poverty.  We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.

read the complete transcript of the President’s remarks

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