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"Ask Not": JFK's Call, 50 Years Later

President John F. Kennedy delivers his inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1961. (AP)

It’s a big week for presidential speech anniversaries.  On Monday, Martin Luther King Day, we looked back to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address warning on the “military industrial complex”.

Today, we listen back to John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not” speech.  (See a video of the JFK inaugural address.)  It was his presidential inaugural.  On a bright, cold day, fifty years ago tomorrow – January 20, 1961.  ”Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

We speak with David Brooks, Chris Matthews and more on how JFK’s great challenge – “ask not” – sounds now, fifty years on.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and “The Chris Matthews Show.” He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and an aide to several Democratic congressmen, including House Speaker Tip O’Neill. His books include Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America and Life’s a Campaign — hear him talk about that book with Tom Ashbrook.

Thurston Clarke, biographer and historian. His new book is “Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America.”

David Brooks, New York Times op-ed columnist. His forthcoming book is “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement.”

**See the new digitized archives made available by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Here’s the full text of JFK’s “Ask Not” speech:

We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge–and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do–for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom–and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required–not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge–to convert our good words into good deeds–in a new alliance for progress–to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support–to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective–to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak–and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course–both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.

So let us begin anew–remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms–and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah–to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.”

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are– but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”–a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://www.bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson, Talent OR

    If the question is, what can I do for my country?, then my answer is, write a eulogy.

    “Ask not…” was a hell of a speech for its time. That time is past. The world as a whole needs more collective attention than any one nation does. But that attention isn’t going to come from the me-me-me Tea Party and the just-say-no Republicans, let alone the feeble Democrats and the marginalized and demonized Left. I personally don’t think JFK was all that special (martyrdom always distorts reality) but I admit that he does seem so, especially since the days of Reagan, whose whole atrocious attitude toward government was an utter reversal of the Kennedy approach. Tragically, the Reagan view has become entrenched, and Obama’s weak attempt to uproot it seems doomed.

  • Beverly

    JOSHUA,

    He was very special, martyr or not.

    Haven’t you read the books he wrote? Haven’t you seen any film, heard audio, or read anything about the way people all over the world reacted to his death?

    My guess would be that you haven’t.

  • cory

    It has no meaning today for an mostly self-absorbed and selfish society. We may have reached the point where change is no longer possible from within and will have to be forced on us externally.

    As a teen in the 80′s, I had a feeling that man was near to leaving behind his long history of violence, greed, and ignorance. At 40 I realize we aren’t close to it and no end is in sight.

    I give Kennedy credit for at least attempting to inspire us to think beyond ourselves.

    Leftfield, Wisconsin

  • Nick from Massachusetts

    JFK gave us hope and the realization that we can make a difference. And he was able to get things accomplished.

    Wow! Do we need him or someone like him today !

  • geffe

    JFK, the myth and memory of him are stronger than the reality. He was the right man for the time that’s for sure. However he was not president long enough to really have good evaluation of his tenure. So much potential.

    Kennedy was a brilliant man who read a lot philosophy and used critical thinking and rational thought. Something sorely missing in today’s political arena. Does anyone read philosophy anymore?

    Lets also not forget he got us into the Vietnam war, and Johnson was at first acting on Kennedy’s plans.

    Kennedy’s finest hour was the Cuban Missile crisis.

  • Zeno

    Who speaks and comprehends like this anymore? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjkLfhRyg0w&feature=related

    One wonders why the dumbing down in Americas moneyed individuals is greater than it is for the average American. But it is consistently revealed either incidentally or accidentally to be true over and over again.

    “An error does not become a mistake unless you refuse to correct it.”

  • Al Dorman

    (Boston, MA)
    To me, Kennedy was one of the worst war-criminals we’ve had in office. His atrocious foreign policy was a slap in the face to Eisenhower’s warning of the military-industrial complex, but that was typical liberal-Democrat behavior in those days.

    JFK and his brother basically commanded a terror-state: assassination attempts on Castro (Cuba), coups against Trujillo (Dominican Republic) and Diem (S. Vietnam), defoliations and so-called ‘aid’ in Southeast Asia, the upper-class cleansing of Iraq, and so on.

  • David

    “Ask not…” was a hell of a speech for its time. That time is past.Posted by Joshua

    Joshua, President Keddedy was absolutely right. Ask not what your country can do for you… is exactly what this country needs. It is a timeless philosophy that calls for all citizens to become involved from their next door neighbor, to the town square to D.C. this is who the Tea Party speaks to, They are the people who pay their taxes and contribute to charitable causes, in addition to helping their neighbors. Ronald Reagan knew that.

    Unfortunately, Ask not what you can do for your country; ask what your country can do for you… more aptly describes the self centered belief of so many in our society today. It has clearly become the unspoken montra of JFK’s Party.

    David, TN

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Al, people can want simple views, that JFK was in all ways good (easier when one dies young). (Who wrote this speech anyway? The Kennedy clan seems to have “placed” this somewhat unlikely son, and my best recall is that Americans WANTED to believe in the next generation so badly, and here was an example, a voice from the future (with some pedigree). Eisenhower, representing World War II, and Republican stability, walked off the stage, and if he had not had heart problems we would have clung to him, I think.
    I remember hearing the “Ask Not” speech when I was in grade school. My brother and I would come skipping over the hill and home for lunch each day, then go hustling back, and on that cold day my mother had the radio on in the dining room so we could listen while we gobbled lunch. I clearly remember hearing it; it is hard-wired in my head. It defined my idea of leadership in many ways.
    But a fine speech writer could have done that. And as you say, our trajectory in foreign strategy seems to have been set askew.
    What you don’t know about mid-20th-century Boston Irish politics can’t hurt you? Maybe, maybe not.

  • Sam Olin

    With two wars and the economy I am baffled why the present and last president has asked nothing (in turns of sacrifice) of the American people – I believe people are ready and willing to take on the country’s problems if they think the government is inclusive and honest.

  • David, TN

    Opps of course I meant to type President Kennedy…

  • BHA – Vermont

    Too bad the business schools and bankers heard:

    “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do TO your country”

  • Chris, Glens Falls, NY

    I’m in my early 30′s, so I wasn’t there, but the famous Kennedy line still makes me emotional. Unfortunately, it’s born out of loss and grief. I am disgusted in my country’s selfishness and corruption. As hard as I fight it looks like it’s only going to get WORSE.

  • Hana

    The only thing people can get really interested in is money: the mega rich to swallow more and more, no matter where in the world, the poor for their toys or pure survival.

    How could we ask people now to do something for their country, what country?
    What our government doing for US?

    Hana, Boston

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    The “ask not” line was memorable, because it didn’t tell you what JFK wanted you to think. “What you can do for your country”? Soon (I think right in the speech), the Peace Corps call answered the question. You can serve by teaching the world what the USA knows. (I think this was soon after a book called “The Ugly American,” which debunked the idea well-intentioned Americans are all that good. Author, Lederer or something like that.)

    But in those days, we were taught about our helplessness: In case of atomic attack, hide under your desks.

    The idea of being able to act, to ask what I can do, and actually help — was the man crazy?

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    Sam Oline @ 10:14 Wrote that we have not been asked to sacrifice. Excellent point. I became a staunch supporter of Joe Biden after hearing him four or five years ago on Bill Maher (when I could afford HBO) saying that he felt Bush had blown it when after 9/11 he didn’t call on the country to pitch in and help on the war on terror. Instead Bush told us to go shopping. What a failure as a leader.

    Charles in KY

  • cory

    David,

    Your post is nonsensical, absolutist drivel.

    I’m a lefty, yet I’ll be the first to admit the numerous shortcomings of the American Democratic party which marginally represents my interests.

    Your idyllic portrayal of the American right, as well as the Tea Party is silly. Both the left and the right have serious failings.

    Leftfield, Wisconsin

  • shannon in TN

    I was in first grade when JFK made this speech. I have thought about the “ask not” part of the speech a lot. To me, it never meant “service to government”; it meant “service to the COUNTRY,” the land and its people.

    I became an educator to low-income people, and in the summer, a farmer, a custodian of the American land.

  • Joe Rice

    Kennedy’s quote was “what you can do for your country”, not “what you can do for your government”. An important distinction?

    Joe
    Acton, Massachusetts

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    It’s not just our country he is talking about. He puts it in the context that the whole world can appreciate in the following sentence. I think that he’s actually talking about is the principle of selflessness, and that to some extent, it’s what it takes to make human society continue to work. If you want to do anything of meaning, whether your calling is to go to war, or to protest against it when it’s time for war to stop, you have to be willing to take the risk of putting your own safety at risk if you want your actions to have meaning. Anyone can do what is easy. It takes some guts to try to do what’s hard.

  • Russ

    Several callers, and the Milton Friedman book that was mentioned, seem to confuse “Country” with “Government”.

    Kennedy was not asking what you can do for your “government” but for the “country”. The Tea Partiers and others have developed a paranoia and a black and white view of the world where actions are either libertarian or socialist. What about the good that can be done for your fellow countrymen?

    One of the functions of government is to be an organizing force for the needs of our fellow citizens.

  • Ann, Barrington, RI

    Somehow, during the show on Eisenhower earlier this week, I got the impression that Kennedy was the VERY FIRST President to IGNORE Ike’s warning against the build-up of the military-industrial complex. Was I wrong?

    (((((((I was alive during both administrations, but I was young, and getting news was SO much harder then — no internet to “catch you up” on things you didn’t quite understand in the current news. ALSO, too much homework!! WAY too much! — Please take note of the effect of too much homework on the political understanding of the next generation! But, that’s another topic.)))))))

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    Tom Ashbrook, Shame on you. “The sense of our national standing”. Are you kidding? When are we ever going to get over this win/lose attitude? We should be striving to “be the best we can be”.

  • http://www.gnhusa.org Tom Barefoot

    HI,
    I was there for the JFK Speech as a teenager, and I was very moved by the speech. We have been exorted to greed and that is leading us right over the cliff. We need more cooperation at all levels. What he asked was for us to work together, to choose something greater than ourselves. If you are only looking out for yourself, you have exactly ONE person lookin out for you. If everyone was looking out for their family and friends and community, you might have hundreds of people looking out for you. We need to move together to build a world and a country that makes sure no one is left behind anywhere. Let’s put the greater good above personal gain. The recent happiness research shows clearly that we do feel happier when we give than when we receive or spend money on ourselves. Grandma was right.
    Tom

  • Jim from Framingham

    Chris Mathews derision of Conservatives/Tea Partiers/Libertarians is hollow; many Conservatives give service to their country … many join our an all volunteer military (the hero’s he referred to a few minutes ago), many donate liberally to charity or sponsor their own charities, and run for office.

    Our country has become too much the government handing out money and never expecting anything back.

  • Jason

    As a 38 yr old male in this wonderful country I feel that I, and perhaps my peers, do not “patriotically own” this country as perhaps other generations have. In hind sight I wish my young adult days were made up of a obligatory service that would have taught me the joy of sacrifice to my country, be it military or civil service. Instead I can only observe that I have become a wonderful consumer who has awoken in my late thirties to have sadly amassed thousands of dollars owed in back taxes.

  • Margaret

    I was the younger child at the time of John Kennedy and more effected by his assassination and that of MLK and put my hopes into RFK until his assassination.
    I felt John Kennedy’s message was to the first generation,the children of WWII Vets. My father in Nebraska was a part of the Kennedy campaigns in Nebraska so the opportunity to meet all the Kennedy’s. I heard John Kennedy speak but again was early in my life. My older siblings were the heart of who JFK was speaking to. A generation who survived their parents at war.
    I was part of the generation of dissolution with country the betrayal of assassination.

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    Ann @ 10:35 I didn’t think there was to much homework then, maybe you just overdid it is all.

  • Tom

    What JFK stood for has been lost over the years.

    Here’s a great video that shows JFK’s passion on certain issues. It’s called: My Business was Mankind, and includes JFK quoting Dickens.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJrFpGYgMlE

  • http://onpointradio.org Eric

    I was in college during JFK’s presidency and I personally liked him a lot. But I am largely in agreement with Joshua. The real question is not what we can do for our country or what our country can do for us but what we as Americans, working in concert, well informed, and with abundant good will, can do to make life better for ourselves and our children and their children. (In some respects, I believe this would have to be achieved through the government but in many respects it need not be.) This indeed is the fundamental question citizens of all countries should ask.

  • Yar From Somerset, KY

    Would your guests support a return of the draft?

  • Zeno

    The old USA where rich people went to war…

  • Ann, Barrington, RI

    RE: that constant fear the guest spoke about. We used to plan what we’d take with us “when the bomb came” in our classic, blue, metal doll clothes boxes. My best friend was very competitive, she always bragged that she had “more”. So, of course, she bragged that she’d be able to take MORE with her WHEN the bomb came. This was sort of a regular game, but it seemed more truly serious than our other games which always varied. This one was a “constant” in theme.

    I also grew up with a Dad who commuted into NY city. We drove past a man who was building his own bomb shelter on our way home from church each Sunday. (Years later, that structure was in worse shape than the surrounding old Victorian houses!)

    Of course we had those “drills” in school when the teacher put on her special hat & we first had to hide under our desks, then we had to go out into the hallway and “hug” the walls. Could be that THAT set of exercises more than anything else caused the fear. But, there were also the scary news reels at the movies about Communism. I was truly afraid that the Communists were coming.

    I was afraid of Communists even before I went to Kindergarten. When we went to the circus at Madison Square Garden, I was scared that there were Communists in the side shows. Had I overheard something about the country of origin of the side show artists? My parents didn’t talk about these things within our earshot. It MUST have been from the radio that I got these impressions. It was always on. We had no TV yet when I went to the circus with my Dad. I DO know that I felt sorry for the children in Hungary when THEY were taken over by the Communists. I felt truly sorry for the CHILDREN.

  • Sinclair

    1961 was a very different time compared w/2011.

    There is much less unity in 2011, as money has divided the nation; even wbur promotes the individual (the just heard, “You” blurb, + special member benefits).

    Interesting that Gordon Murray, a very successful + affluent Wall Street investment banker, realized in his last 2 years, (he just passed away), that helping others was a new + pleasant feeling!

  • Robin Fordham

    I don’t understand why we must view government as somehow separate from ‘country’? We certainly don’t see it that way when it comes to the military, so why does civil service get such a bum rap?

    Amherst

  • Laurence, Providence, RI

    David Brooks failed to mention a major reason Americans have come to distrust their government: for more than 30 years, the GOP has run for office by railing against government. Tell people something long enough, and eventually they will believe it.

  • Drew

    He was speaking to the SPIRIT of America. It has become cliche to be a patriot and to love America. I think this resonates with our relations with China and our tableing of human rights issues for economic issues!

  • Jessica Langerman

    I cannot help but feel that a terrible opportunity for leadership was lost immediately after 9/11. When George Bush finally addressed the nation, many Americans waited with baited breath for the call to serve our country. I think most of us would have done anything necessary to help heal our nation and move it in a better direction – begun the long, hard work of breaking our addiction to foreign oil, for example – but instead we were told to shop. I will never forget my own profound disappointment in that moment – such a failure of vision, and of belief in the capacity of Americans to sacrifice.

  • Beverly

    TOM ASHBROOK,

    Thank you for yet another outstanding show. Hearing those powerful clips makes the hairs on the back of my meck stand on end.

    (By the way, maybe some people should be reminded that the people ARE the Government.)

  • http://none Donald Almeida

    There’s a fine line between politics and patriotism.

    When JFK called out to the citizens of this country, “Ask not what your country can do for you, . . .”, it was definately not a politically conservative call. It was a patriotic call to all Americans to give of themselves. The Peace Corps was a dramatic example of his ideals.

    It was a call (or calling) that Eleanor Roosevelt had spent most of her life by getting involved with the needs of this country.

    Unfortunately, looking back toward his innaugural address in todays political climate is difficult for some who were not around. The John Birch Society was the right-wing conservative standard back then, Barry Goldwater was a lone voice in the woods, and moderate Eisenhower Republicans dominated and pushed for the nomination of anti-Communist and Vice President Richard Nixon as their candidate.

  • http://kgreenmun@gmail.com Kate Greenmun

    I was a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Botswana 2008-2010. Prominent in the entrance of my school was the sign “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, with a hand painted portrait of JFK.

  • David Gwatkin

    To me, those words, were born of a generation, my grandparent’s generation, tempered by the common suffering of the Great Depression and the unifying cause and sacrifice of ridding the world of fascism in WWII. The people of our nation emerged from that period humble, frugal, grateful for what they had, but mostly unified to bring the country forward. We, as a people, have not faced anything approaching these challenges since. Gradually, we have devolved, essentially, into self-centered spoiled brats whose leaders question an opponent’s patriotism if opinions differ. I fear, particularly as a father of two small boys, the only thing that will bring us together again is another great challenge.

    David Gwatkin
    Lyndonville, Vermont

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Maybe presidents always ask for consensus — my “take” on “ask not/ask what,” and I’m trying to think of exceptions.

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    David Brooks- It is a cold-hearted thing to say the sacrifice needs to be Medicare or Social Security. They should be last on the block. I am for means testing but as a 54 year old fighting off foreclosure the only relief I see in sight is when Social Security and Medicare kick in in 12 years or so. The first thing to be cut should be the Military and then corporate subsidies starting with those for the oil companies.

  • Jessica Langerman

    P.S., Sorry, I’m from Wellesley, MA.

  • alexandra noyes

    Tom, I was there, 13 years old sitting in bleachers on that cold, snowy avenue. Listening to his voice through speakers in the trees. We huddled together,rapped in blankets, straining to catch his words in the wind.

    When i hear his words today I realize I miss the broard, really generous notion of Country as apposed to this new idea of “Home Land.” I think he couldn’t know the effect and power that his words and ideas that day would carry. He couldn’t have known what he faced: Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missle crisis and the challanges of Integration -voting education rights in the south… they must have served as a personal challenge for him to live up to.

    For us, the youth then, it was SO inspiring.We were empowered. We felt personally invited, maybe even challenged to become meaningfully involved to support and give ourselves to the causes, the NEEDS of Country, whatever that meant to each of us in our own understanding. We could serve in SO mmany ways. The military, the peace corps, the civil rights movement, the peace movement. How we understood that word in many ways informed our lives. We felt we were needed, powerful lead by one who wasn’t afraid.

  • Kathy

    Why are we constantly questioning whether we need to give up benefits, deductions, and programs, but we never consider that sacrifice might be needed by those Americans who are wealthy in the form of sacrificing by paying a higher tax rate? Something along the levels of taxation we paid during Mr. Kennedy’s time.

    We can afford these things. We simply refuse to pay for them.

  • Zeke

    Despite the mystique surrounding the speech, the message would not fly today. It is not because of any movement left or right of our society, but because we no longer have a “general knowledge” type of society. Our country is now a lot more system and expertise driven, and the speech would fail either as a campaign message or a rallying cry for the lack of specifics. The “ask not” is an incredibly ambiguous and general “transaction” as one of the guests point out.

    No political speech today would get away with asking for this level of political blank check, not to do whatever the politician want but at least a blank check in terms of political confidence and political capital in order to carry out some action. The speeches and statements of today ask not what we can do to visualize some grand narrative of history but are delivery vehicle for a very specific set of toggles and dials being set, like an actuarial-table in our society and visualize how our lives can be better. On some issues this would be down to actual numbers or even single percentage points. I infinitely prefer the specificity of today, just like signing a check, I want to be able to say “Pay X to Y for Z services rendered, ONLY.”

  • Sinclair

    David Brooks: ugggh!

    Please find another conservative commentator; does he really need his latest tome promoting?

  • Michael

    For me it comes down to trust. I read that Kennedy once said that he wouldn’t have known there was a depression if someone hadn’t told him, he was so wealthy. Whether this is true nor not, the point being that for me to sacrifice, I need to know that others who have much much more than me are willing to sacrifice too. Home deduction versus business deduction. Military service (which I did twenty years) to the need for a draft to get “elites” to serve. I don’t trust politicians or the business elite. For the past 30 years all I have seen is take, take, and take.

  • Robert Barron

    I enjoyed your conversation with Chris Mathews. I believe the writings of Eric Hoffer would be very helpful to this important subject.

  • alexandra Noyes

    Plainfield VT

  • Mike Wyatt

    The missing context of most political rhetoric, if not most discussions of any venue, is that of “America as a society”… It’s NOT about “us v them”, “gov’t v individual”, “have v have not”…

    When WE think and act as a society, then WE will have a gov’t that serves OUR interests… as WE will have created it of our own design.

    I’m originally from Massachusetts and worked as a civil servant (Civil Engineer and Urban Planner) all my working life…

    Thank you for your wonderful discussions!

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    Drew @ 10:53 If you haven’t seen the movie “Girl in the Cafe” rent it from Netflix. It takes place at the 2006 G-8 Summit. One of my favorite scenes has the Chancellor of the Exchequer of England saying that he “doesn’t want to be a part of the generation that negotiated a 37% tarriff on iron ore, he wants instead to be a part of that great generation who had it within its power to wipe out extreme poverty (poverty that kills) and did so”. Would that our current crop of politicians and greedy corporate types could be made to see and believe in this films theme….. Next time I have a little money I am going to sponsor a free showing of it at a local theater.

  • Don Morgan, Saranac Lake, New York

    There was discussion of Barack Obama’s lack of call to service. Perhaps it has not been front and center but it’s there. Below are links to a speech he gave at Wesleyan University May, 2008. Then an excerpt:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XX5WEgqw6pM

    http://www.wfsb.com/news/16389467/detail.html

    An excerpt:

    “Through service, I found a community that embraced me; citizenship that was meaningful; the direction I’d been seeking. Through service, I discovered how my own improbable story fit into the larger story of America.

    Each of you will have the chance to make your own discovery in the years to come. And I say “chance” because you won’t have to take it. There’s no community service requirement in the real world; no one forcing you to care. You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should by. You can choose to narrow your concerns and live your life in a way that tries to keep your story separate from America’s.

    But I hope you don’t. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, though you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get here, though you do have that debt.

    It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story.”

  • Peter

    Wow! Did I just hear David Brooks suggest that people making $80-100K could afford to pay more for Medicare … i.e. means testing? Watch out, David, you’ll soon be downgraded to RINO status if you keep talking sense like this. Don’t expect a congress which trades tax cuts for the over-$250K rich for extension of benefits to the unemployed to jump on this bandwagon.

  • Beverly

    ERIC, (10:43)

    VERY well put.

  • Daniel Charbonneau

    To suggest, as David Brooks seem to be doing, that everyone give up mortgage deduction and several percentage points of Medicare as the patriot thing to do is to perpetuate the GOP false equivalence red herring. When the country’s wreath is owned by 1% of the total population, it obscene to suggest everyone should share and share alike. What happened to: “From those who are able, the more is expected?”

    Watertown,MA

  • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

    Don Morgan – Never heard of that address, thanks for posting it. It re-balances me after listening to “Dr. Laura” Shlessinger (sp?) on Shawn Hannity last night saying just the opposite when she was saying that she was promoting revenge on those she felt had “wronged” her. She justified it by saying that she had ground rules for how she got her revenge. It saddened me to think that someone that influential could not even grasp that revenge does more damage to the one meting out the revenge than it does to the recipient. A lot of us have a lot to learn.

    When we are constantly bombarded with a win/lose mentality instead of an advancement for all mentality it makes the future look bleak. It’s the reason why I designed a baseball game that only has one score, all players rotate to all positions and all players are in the batting order. At the “end” of the game the score might be something like 13, or 7, or 22. Still runs nine innings, but everyone plays and “wins”.

    I have also created a darts game that can be won, lost or tied. A lot more fun, and more challenging I have found.

  • Beverly

    DON MORGAN,

    Yes, I was also surprised that none of the guests knew about that.

    I’m not involved in politics at all, & I’ve heard him mention in quite a few times.

    Thanks for your contribution.

  • Adrian

    I yearn for the America of our Founding Fathers, that is, an America where the words of the Declaration of Independence were understood and lived in the culture. I agree with the Americans of 1776 that the only legitimate function of my government is to protect the right to my life, my liberty, my money, and that such a government leaves me free to pursue my happiness as I see fit. In short, I ask that my country leaves me alone to deal with my fellow Americans as freeman trading value for value to mutual benefit and without sacrificing myself to them or the State. I do not want to be a collector of sacrifices nor do I want to be sacrificed.

    John F. Kennedy turned the premise of the America of 1776 on its head when he urges me to “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” And what is it that I should do for my country? Who is going to tell me how I am to sacrifice my wellbeing and ultimately my life for my country? JFK?

    I remember and lived through another period dominated by a great statesman who also told the people to sacrifice their lives to the State. He also told the people that he *was* the State. That great statesman was der Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler. That period was “blessed” with four great statesmen who all told people what to do for their country. No, thanks; Tom, you can count me out as an admirer of presidents like JFK.

    By the way Tom, learn what it means to sacrifice at: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/sacrifice.html

  • ThresherK

    David Brooks is telling people to “do for their country” by giving up great gobs of SocSec and Medicare? Hilarious. Not only is it cruel for its own sake, it threatens to throw millions back into poverty or the labor pool just when we don’t need it. And Brooks’ attitude smacks of somebody who will never be personally touched by what he tries to pass off as a cold, calcuated economic fact. That’s why he’s a Beltway Inbred.

    I do hope someone on this panel proves not to be a member of the Catfood Commission.

    (Disclaimer: I’m looking forward to the podcast; only heard bits of it live.)

    Adrian, you may always emigrate to the low-government, low-tax country of your choice. Somalia has lots of each of those qualities.

  • Beverly

    DON MORGAN,

    Sorry, forgot to add this to my last message:

    On many occasions, when urging Americans to volunteer, etc., I’ve heard both President Obama & Michelle say, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

    They are outstanding, selfless role models for the rest of us.

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    The lines that define who are good guys and who are bad guys is not as clear as borders on maps. You always have to ask, “good for what?” and then ask what is that good for, then repeat the process for the bad.

  • Jim in Omaha

    Oh Adrian, you are so admirable! Gathering your own food without relying on the food delivery system made possible by publicly built and maintained roads; Having your own means to deal with such eventualities as your home catching fire, requiring emergency medical services or being the victim of a crime; Not relying on roads and airports to get around. Beside wallowing in the utterly self-absorbed and unrealistic world of Ayn Rand’s propaganda, which would have been the subject of ridicule to the “founding fathers”, what do you really do?

  • Lawrence Grasso

    I have two observations. (1) I was appalled by David Brooks calls for sacrifice continually mentioning medicare and the mortgage interest deduction without mentioning the marginal income tax rates for the richest 1%. Does he know what the marginal tax rates were when Kennedy made his speech? Does he know what the relative distribution of income and wealth were when Kennedy made his speech? I was also appalled his comments went essentially unchallenged. I recommend everyone, especially Tom Ashbrook and David Brooks, read Winner Take All Politics by Paul Person and Jacob Hacker. The call to service is for everyone, but the call and the expectation should be especially strong for those who have benefited greatly. The hedge fund managers making a million dollars per day pay a lower marginal tax rate than the average worker. They get bailed out with our tax dollars when they bring down the economy. People losing their homes (even the majority, those who didn’t speculate and who bought within their means) get thrown on the street.

    (2) Many callers and writers have distinguished between government and country. Our country was founded on the principle of government OF, BY, and FOR the people. Serving the government should be serving ourselves, but see “Winner Take All Politics.” Today the only “people” that matter are the Multi-national corporations with allegiance to no country and serving only to maximize executive salaries (the only cost not to be contained) and returns to shareholders. Citizens United has only made the problem worse. Why isn’t the Tea Party out in the streets protesting that?! At the time of the founding fathers, the corporate form would be granted only to enterprises serving a public good (e.g., building a highway or a canal).ions w aren’t theung out to dry and members of the recommend Tom he was in

  • Pancake, hold the sugar, in NC

    What does the average person have as an opportunity to serve? The privileged, like myself, can Sit-A-Year in an urban prison-school, travel with the Piece Core to foreign lands to cheer while they pump aquifers dry, put a hundred dollar bill in a Salivation Army kettle so the average homeless schyzoprenic can be wound up on religion again and need more self-medication. The little working plebe can’t do these big charitable acts. They can give $10 to starving Haiti so their evangelical pastor can hire a sex worker or pay the next car payment. They can buy a bar of candy to send the band to glorify some fascist creep. You really can’t do anything for a country that is owned and run by corporate managers serving a tiny wealthy oligarchy. When you obey tax law you commit a moral crime because of the mass murder and fraud that results. I have sat on my hands while a military recruiter with the grammar of Festus Hagen told some high school girl she could go to Afghanistan to help with schools and hospitals. Our schools and hospitals suck, so why can’t we pay that girl to help here. I don’t know how we’ll afford war when every tenth Marine is missing a limb, and most of the others are brainwashed killers. Kennedy was sheltered. kennedy was a dummy and Teddy Sorenson wrote his speeches and books.If Nixon had won JFK would have died of steroid use or AIDS, and that’s the truth. The Kennedy’s and the Bush’s are the same damn thing. All in all they never share their wealth with the nation. They derive their wealth from war and fraud at the general expense. We will not be able to give until we call the takers to account.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Pancake, you are certainly not holding back. I’m wondering if you are rehearsing for a letter to your alumni magazine (if you have the kind of college that the “privileged” are likely to have access to). How does your alma mater approach the issues you raise? My own college certainly has reframed its approach to education in the last 40 years, but not so much its approach to the appeal of arrogance, if you know what I mean. They might not have donors if they didn’t keep the concept of the cream, the upper crust, neatly intact. You heal the wound between the crust and the flesh by running for president and other such sacrifices. That scion might be seen as a sacrificial lamb for familial success-guilt.
    Oh, I am taking into consideration the service, in war and in government, of almost all of them, generation after generation, even those less promising like our Teddy Kennedy; I’m positing a question about whether this call to service, the sense of “noblesse oblige” (nobility obliges), which at the start of the show was linked to Machiavellian manipulation by favors done “for” as well as favors received, whether that works except for the elites. You refer to churches, where if you give all you’ve got to the church, you had better be sure that church is exactly acting as your agent, not furthering its own particular sense of expiation. Maybe churches don’t “sense” expiation, but anyway.
    I think the coming together of community, in many spheres, is shifting. David Brooks certainly pointed to that. The ability of people to congregate and act together is changing too. Watch China try to limit the exposure of that population. Lots of luck with that — ;>)

  • Art

    During this entire show there was never any acknowledgment that the famous line “Ask not” was not even Kennedy’s–he took it from Oliver Wendell Holmes without even attributing it to him. Actually it was probably his speechwriter Ted Sorenson who took the line–the same Sorenson who wrote Profiles in Courage, which Kennedy then put his name on–but that doesn’t excuse it.

    I’d be curious what books you thought he wrote, Beverly.

    It was a stirring, well-delivered speech but that lack of attribution always detracts from it for me. He or Sorenson could have added, “in the immortal words of Oliver Wendell Holmes,” or something like that.

    Kennedy was pretty unpopular when he died but death made him into a martyr, made him into American icon that he wouldn’t have been otherwise.

  • Art

    That would be Sorensen, sorry.

  • Pancake, kneadin’ learnin’, in NC

    Ellen D.- Yep, I wented to four of them ol’ collages, including Vanderbilt, built by a vander (vender).
    I rarely suggest people read, but if you buy Chris Hedges “Death of the Liberal Class”, read it, and if you don’t enjoy it and agree with it, you can send it to me (address provided at Redlair6@yahoo.com)for a complete refund including shipping. Sorry I can’t refund your reading and shopping time. It has stuff in it you knead to considder. (Pardon my Woodie Guthrie impression.)I’ll even discuss Chris’s book with you over the phone on my dime if you want.

    My trash hauler at the farm follows the same policy: If you’re not fully satisfied he give you double your garbage back. Why can’t colleges do that?

  • William

    JFK gave some good speeches but his legacy of expanding our role in the the Vietnam War and getting thousands of American young men killed should not be forgotten.

  • Beverly

    I’m listening to President Obama’s news conference.

    He began his answer to one question by saying, “Let’s not look at these issues through a lens of rivalry.”

    Republicans take note.

    The President was in top form, & SO presidential throughout. Can’t help but wonder what the news conference would be like if Dubya was answering the questions instead.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    I just caught about 10 minutes at the end of President Hu’s speech at the State Department luncheon, with Vice President Biden and Secy Clinton, ending with a toast. I listened with the same kind of care as I do to one of our own leaders. It doesn’t take much awareness of Wikileaks and Stuxnet to know that prosperity and security depend on major cooperation, and Hu was saying wonderful things. I understand he steps down in about a year, but if he is successful in this trip he will have more power to leave his preferred team in place after him. Someone had said the Chinese are very good at placing their best people in charge. It’s hard to tell, but I thought so. I felt that our power has just been enhanced by about 1.3 billion-strong, Chinese not being much more different from me than certain Americans are, if you know what I mean.
    On the other hand, watching the greeting ceremony at 9:00 this morning, there was a time when Obama and Hu were shaking hands with crowds of well-wishers, both American and some speaking Chinese. Mostly Nihou (hello), but more. Then I heard Chorosho, apparently being spoken into some camera. That’s Russian for “excellent,” or “good,” and I wondered what it means in Chinese.

  • LiliBelle

    @Laurence Providence,RI – We seem to have forgotten that this particular country was founded and constructed by citizens railing against their government. What fault exactly do you find with the GOP?

  • Bob H

    “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Bah! There are millions of Americans in this country every day who are given enormous opportunity by virtue of their race, their gender, their income level (or lack thereof), their mental or physical affirmity and NOTHING is expected of them. Quite the opposite in fact. We continue to excuse them and their lack of contribution because of their race, their gender, their income level or their mental or physical affirmity. We might continue this discussion by first agreeing to be intellectually honest with one another.

  • Allen Shulman

    Sadly, too many today would replace JFK’s call to community is “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for yourself”.

  • david

    Fifty years later, what effect has JFk’s “ask not” saying had on our people????? I take his saying as meaning, govt. has a role and the people have a role.
    The govt. is not the source nor the provider for all the “wants” of the people. People are to be responsible for providing many of their own needs themselves.
    But!!! over the last many decades, the people’s “wants” have increased and so has their desire for the govt. to provide those “wants” for them. A recipe for bankruptcy.

    The truth to this fact! A poll shown on 1-16-11 on the CBS Sunday Morning program shows this shift.

    79% were more concerned about what can my country do for “ME” compared with only 15% concerned about what “I” can do for my country.
    Are we headed for a Moocher society????

  • Marcel

    Such a big deal made over a political speech? Grow up kiddies. How can anyone with an ounce of common sense take a political speech seriously?

    It’s just a speech, written by a professional speech writer. Do we want a leader, a stage performer, or a dancing bear? I don’t care what politicians say. Politicians are professional liars and windbags. I only care what politicians do.

    I have a great fear of inspiring leaders. Appeal to emotion is the road to deception, the negation of reason. I want a president who is competent.

    Well said ≠ well done.

  • Marcel

    BTW, to correct some previous comments.

    => The top income tax bracket was much higher under JFK, but the wealthiest paid a smaller percentage of their income in taxes. In the 1980s the top rate was lowered in return for eliminating most of the loopholes.

    “I don’t understand why we must view government as somehow separate from ‘country’?”

    => Because the 2 are different words with totally different meanings. I mean purely in semantic/lexicographic/logical terms. America is a country. It includes all of its people, territory, nature, culture, institutions — including but not limited to the government — and much else.

    Finally, Obama and his wife said “To whom much is given, much is expected.” It’s a old quote. If an auto mechanic says to you, “Integrity rewards us more than profit”, would you trust him? If so, I know a Nigerian businessman who wants your email address.

  • Mark Taylor

    David Brooks’ stirring cry to sacrifice for the country would have some credibility if he would include the rich in this much needed and long delayed national assignment.

    Tom, why didn’t you ask Mr. Brooks that since he thought seniors and the disabled and those just barely able to hold onto their homes should suck it up and take a hit for the country would he extend that call to courage to the millionarie and billionare leaches who got an extension of the Bush tax cuts? Notice how that issue has simply disappeared from the national media and instead the focus of is on how to most effectively hose over the middle class yet again.

    Would Mr. Brooks call upon corporations to pony up their fair share for the national wellbeing while telling the sick they just need to expect less? What about their subsidies and tax loopholes and publicly funded research programs and infrastructure? Isn’t it, in this time of national crisis and need, take at least a teensy bit of a shave or does it always have to fall to the disabled and elderly?

    The hypocrisy and single-minded focus on protection of privlege and un-deserved profit by Mr. Brooks and the right is getting old. Tom, you need to step it up and challenge the intellectual dishonesty of this crowd.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Taylor
    Genoa, WI

  • david in harlem

    It’s sad that the “government” is considered a separate entity by so many. I continue to believe that we are in Lincoln’s words: “a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” We’re all in the same “open boat” (Stephen Crane).

  • louie

    Many people consider the government ‘foreign.’Government is too big, too small. Government should stop intervening with this

  • Sara Suman

    As a social worker and community organizer in Brooklyn. I feel that we aren’t as connected to an idea of “country” anymore but that we feel more connected to a sense of “community” defined more by things like neighborhood, ethnicity, political beliefs.

  • http://sylviacenter.org Anna Hammond

    you did not have ONE SINGLE FEMALE VOICE on air responding to this question of how “ask not” sounds to us today. almost without exception, the responses had to do with government — the “them” as opposed to the “us”. “Ask not” taps what’s at the heart of many of us (at least women) who think, or are conditioned to think, about our use in the world and the moral judgement inherent there. THAT IS — you are a good person if you give; you are a bad person if you take.

    Well, you could do a whole additional show on this topic. Maybe next time you could actually present a varying point of view (i.e the other 50% of the population). And, the tow quotations you read from women do not count — since that’s barely a voice if it’s read by someone else.

  • Catherine

    Yes! His speech, his challenge of “ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country” inspired me–at age 10–that I had things I had to do in this world, in this Nation. And years later, I entered government service. I am coming up on 25 years of Federal service and I have volunteered for 19 years for my local City government. I truly believe in public service–public service is a public trust.

    I am sorry for those who do not see the value of this work. Somewhere they have lost their way.

  • Karen Foster

    You folks on the radio are missing the point. Many of us saw the “ask not” speech not as a call for doing for your government, but as a call for doing for the people of the nation as a whole – helping others, bettering the world, etc.

  • Kristi Shelloner

    Rather than a call to duty, I think President Kennedy’s statement about service reflected a call to character; that people think not only, or even first, about themselves, but that they first think about others. It is not a matter of duty or community, but a way of life and thinking, which could governs board rooms and banks, as well as the halls of congress and across the corporations of the American global giant. It requires only that we all change our minds.

    I am in Alexandria, Va, listening on WAMU 88.5FM

  • Dee

    We don’t have representative Government anymore…

    I couldn’t agree more with the caller our government has failed to be representative of the people –esp.
    under the Republican Party with its concern for Wall
    Street over Main Street and its focus on security through strength. How could this ever be right–
    when it is all so twisted and makes a mockery out of “we the people…”

    Such a twisted mindset has destroyed our economy and bankrupt the US Treasury and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of US servicemen and hundreds
    of thousands of Iraqis and Agfhans.

    Not to mention the Guantamano detainees ..who were kidnapped from their homes & villages and detained against their will under false pretenses and denied
    due process.

    Now that’s neither American nor democratic but tyranny and ugly fascism. Indeed, I wish Obama to know I am still waiting for many of them to be arrested & charged accordingly with their crimes… Dee

    P.S. Today, we can only long for the kind of govern-
    ment JFK called us to service. The Republican leader-
    ship and the Oligarchy they represent have destoyed
    the essence of our government –that is serve us and
    we in turn serve it…

  • Dee

    “The call to service is for everyone, but the call and the expectation should be especially strong for those who have benefited greatly.” Lawrence Grasso.

    Lawrence Grasso,

    This is what’s so immoral and unacceptable about the
    Bush are Tax Cuts for the Rich and Republican demands
    of them… It will never be right and always a mortal stain in their national identity….

    So much for the slogan “Country First” John Mc Cain
    and Sarah Palin ran on. The hypocrisy is so blatant.

  • Jim in Omaha

    Karen Foster @ 9:27 pm

    Your comment hits the nail on the head. For me, the call was not primarily to go somewhere else and advance the cause of the U.S., but to make your own country a better place. The advance of the civil rights movement was the most important result, as was equal rights for women and the war on poverty (which was definitely NOT the same as what we now call welfare). JFK mainly was saying, to me, “ask what you can do to make our country better for as many as possible of your fellow citizens, then lead by example for the rest of the world.” The lying done by our leaders and their incompetence during the Vietnam military fiasco, followed by the abuses exposed by Nixon’s Watergate scandal, impeachment and resignation, soon put a totally different spin on those heady days of the early sixties.

  • Amalia Jacobucci

    Cape Cod here. May I beg to differ with the adulation being heaped upon the “ask not” speech. I was around then, not a right wing Kennedy hater but a Humphrey liberal. At the time, “ask not, etc.” sounded suspiciously close to a totalitarian glorification of “the State” above the individual. And, I paraphrase, the fight every battle and go everywhere in the pursuit of freedom bit led us straight into Vietnam, Granada, Nicaragua, Kuweit, Iraq and Afghanistan. Sorry, not buying it, but then, this generation will soon be gone with no one left to remember the follies of the “best and brightest”…..

  • http://JFKscall50yearslater Daniel Traver

    Gentlemen, I was stunned to hear the discussion equate government and country. Country is something timeless which you love while government is merely temporary and political . If you have any doubt of this please arrange to be on a Marine Corps base for colors sometime . Thanks, Dan

  • Alex

    At some point, after all the Cold Wars, Vietnams and Iraqs, an individual should be able to ask: “What can my country do for me?”

  • Beverly

    ART,

    Sorry. Should have been books written about him. My fingers are always trying to catch up with my mind, so I make a lot of errors here. (Haste makes waste. Check out earlier posting, (10:54), where I mentioned my “meck”. Some are comical, some aren’t.

    I knd of agree with you about the Oliver Wendell Holmes quote. Have mixed emotions.

  • Jim from Shrewsbury MA

    To me the words still resonate clearly. It is a call to take responsibility for seeking opportunities to take constructive and positive action in our daily lives. JFK asks us to use our skills for the betterment of the country. It’s not necessarily a call to join a political party, to run for office, or to become a public servant, but to look for situations, large and small to contribute where you can and then do it.

    My dad is a WWII veteran and part of that famous generation. This type of behavior is in his DNA. I imagine that when he heard those words, his only reaction was to think, “Well said.”

  • Tim

    I was dumbfounded to hear David Brooks call for Americans to make more sacrifices. 15-20% unemployment and he is calling for people to sacrifice more? His compensation from the NYT alone puts him in the upper percentiles for income. This post comes on the news Boeing is cutting 1000 US based workers after signing a deal with China.

    More sacrifices needed indeed.

  • Laarnicudal

    i love the way he delivered, timely for the problem in Baguio city

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Apr 23, 2014
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