Language & Politics

8 Virtues of a Human Leader of the Free World

Joe R. Biden’s presidential inauguration speech of 20 Jan 2021 contains proof of these greatest principles

The Secret Aspirant
Jan 24 · 8 min read

I am wary as anyone about governmental corruptibility and being fiscally and socially taken advantage of by an imperfect democracy.

But in contrast to the last 4 years, I totally dug Biden’s 20 Jan 2021 inauguration speech.

Here is a video and transcript of his speech in full:

These were some of my favorite parts (8 of them) and why:

№1 ⫸ Decency should mean that I can trust that a person if this is their dominant characteristic as it will more than likely mean he/she will be comfortable doing the right thing (even under pressure) before being so easily tempted or coerced to do the wrong thing. In that vein, appealing to our better selves and calling for unity is the ‘decent’ thing to do (added bold mine):

“But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.

On “We the People” who seek a more perfect Union.

This is a great nation and we are a good people.

To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words.

It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy:

Unity.

Unity.

№2 ⫸ Passion for your job is like the mantra of every trending post for the past several years about the ‘secret’ to success which can also be somewhat controversial too (because some passions don’t pay enough for rent or the choice of lifestyle, right?) but it does speak volumes if you outright state your position on that point from get-go than not (added bold mine):

“In another January in Washington, on New Year’s Day 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

When he put pen to paper, the president said, “If my name ever goes down into history it will be for this act and my whole soul is in it.”

My whole soul is in it.

…”

№3 ⫸ Good leadership is not about being selfish or conducting actions in one’s own selfish interests.

(I have an earlier piece that contains an amazing interview to check out on that subject that is inspiring as well):

So Biden’s call to action that addressed the entire nation (not specific partisans) is honorable (added bold mine):

“I ask every American to join me in this cause.

Uniting to fight the common foes we face:

Anger, resentment, hatred.

Extremism, lawlessness, violence.

Disease, joblessness, hopelessness.

We can make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world.

№4 ⫸ Wisdom is a rare commodity and something that can never get too old. I mean how else do we expect to understand the incredible flaws or horrors of the World Wars or the Holocaust and other historical events without those who can truly tell us firsthand or from pertinent experience so that we could avoid the same pitfalls?

Beyond Biden’s actual age, his history and words prove his age in political life as well. And his reminder that he has been around to tell us like a friend what he sees as best for all of us is what we need and could use right now. So like a wise teacher, he states what truth we needed to hear (added bold mine):

“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy.

I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real.

But I also know they are not new.

Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart.

The battle is perennial.

Victory is never assured.

Through the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our “better angels” have always prevailed.

For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.

No progress, only exhausting outrage.

No nation, only a state of chaos.

Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.

Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.

And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.

…”

№5 ⫸ American core values is one of the greatest reminders of what ties Americans together regardless of our creed or views. These are what set us asunder from other nations, especially unfree ones.

Biden’s approach in arguing his agenda by reminding us of our core American values and gently reprimanding and encouraging our American leadership to also do right in the eyes of our constitution and citizens of this country is American at its finest to bring us back from the brink (added bold mine):

“…

Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.

What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans?

I think I know.

Opportunity.

Security.

Liberty.

Dignity.

Respect.

Honor.

And, yes, the truth.

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.

There is truth and there are lies.

Lies told for power and for profit.

And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders — leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.

…”

№6 ⫸ Empathy is an admirable quality because it allows another to connect with you on a much deeper level than we might initially realize. Care and compassion is under-rated in a global environment of greed and destruction.

Everybody knows or should know by now that Biden wasn’t born an elite or as an aristocrat. His great-great-great grand-parental background is the immigrant one.

Aren’t we all also ultimately descendants of immigrants in America? So although Biden may seem generationally far from his roots, his parents and his childhood was that of a working middle-class one.

As of 2018, according to The Pew Research Center, 52% of adults fell into the U.S. middle-class designation:

So having an individual in a powerful office of our country who is empathetic to the daily life of a majority of Americans is reassuring in so far as being understood without having to outright say every little thing so explicitly (added bold mine):

“…

I understand they worry about their jobs, about taking care of their families, about what comes next.

I get it.

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you do, or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do.

We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.

We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility.

If we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes just for a moment.
Because here is the thing about life: There is no accounting for what fate will deal you.

There are some days when we need a hand.

There are other days when we’re called on to lend one.

That is how we must be with one another.

And, if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future.

…”

№7 ⫸ Bigger picture thinking is the quality of superior leadership. Knowing the responsibility we have to maintain our superiority as a global democratic nation goes beyond our borders.

So my penultimate favorite portion of his speech was the acknowledgement of our role globally and our responsibility to lead by example (added bold mine):

“…

So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it.

We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.

Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.

We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.

…”

№8 ⫸ Human in the best sense of this word for me would also characterize someone who is emotive, straight, and full of humility.

Therefore, the best part of his speech (in my opinion) was indeed in the last part of his speech and shows us once again that our human hearts should overcome the intelligence of unhuman things like of cold machines and the unsympathetic aspects of the digital world (added bold mine):

“…

It is a time for boldness, for there is so much to do.

And, this is certain.

We will be judged, you and I, for how we resolve the cascading crises of our era.

Will we rise to the occasion?

Will we master this rare and difficult hour?

Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world for our children?

I believe we must and I believe we will.

And when we do, we will write the next chapter in the American story.

It’s a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me.

It’s called “American Anthem” and there is one verse stands out for me:

‘The work and prayers
of centuries have brought us to this day
What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?…
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
America
America
I gave my best to you.’

Let us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our nation.

If we do this then when our days are through our children and our children’s children will say of us they gave their best.

They did their duty.

They healed a broken land.
My fellow Americans, I close today where I began, with a sacred oath.

Before God and all of you I give you my word.

I will always level with you.

I will defend the Constitution.

I will defend our democracy.

I will defend America.

I will give my all in your service thinking not of power, but of possibilities.

Not of personal interest, but of the public good.

And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear.

Of unity, not division.

Of light, not darkness.

An American story of decency and dignity.

Of love and of healing.

Of greatness and of goodness.

May this be the story that guides us.

The story that inspires us.

The story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history.

We met the moment.

That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived.

That our America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world.

That is what we owe our forbearers, one another, and generations to follow.

So, with purpose and resolve we turn to the tasks of our time.

Sustained by faith.

Driven by conviction.

And, devoted to one another and to this country we love with all our hearts.

May God bless America and may God protect our troops.

Thank you, America.

…”

Politically Speaking

We all view the world through a unique lens.

The Secret Aspirant

Written by

Human | Traveler | Writing thru silent journeys & inscrutable q’s | Join me, visit, connect | Support me: buymeacoffee.com/secretaspirant

Politically Speaking

We all view the world through a unique lens. Politics is in literally everything from our churches to our social organizations to news events and crime to our governments. This is the place to share your view, regardless of your political leanings: all are welcome.

The Secret Aspirant

Written by

Human | Traveler | Writing thru silent journeys & inscrutable q’s | Join me, visit, connect | Support me: buymeacoffee.com/secretaspirant

Politically Speaking

We all view the world through a unique lens. Politics is in literally everything from our churches to our social organizations to news events and crime to our governments. This is the place to share your view, regardless of your political leanings: all are welcome.

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