Twenty-five centuries after Athens first pointed the way, 250 years after the beginning of the great American journey, my faith and my confidence, my certainty in our democratic ideals and universal values remain undiminished. I believe more strongly than ever that Dr. King was right when he said that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (Applause.) But it bends towards justice not because it is inevitable, but because we bend it towards justice; not because there are not going to be barriers to achieving justice, but because there will be people, generation after generation, who have the vision and the courage and the will to bend the arc of our lives in the direction of a better future.
In the United States, and in every place I have visited these last eight years, I have met citizens, especially young people, who have chosen hope over fear, who believe that they can shape their own destiny, who refuse to accept the world as it is and are determined to remake it as it should be. They have inspired me.
In every corner of the world, I have met people who, in their daily lives, demonstrate that despite differences of race or religion or creed or color, we have the capacity to see each other in ourselves. Like the woman here in Greece who said of the refugees arriving on these shores, “We live under the same sun. We fall in love under the same moon. We are all human — we have to help these people.” Women like that give me hope. (Applause.)
In all of our communities, in all of our countries, I still believe there’s more of what Greeks call philotimo — (applause) — love and respect and kindness for family and community and country, and a sense that we’re all in this together, with obligations to each other. Philotimo — I see it every day — and that gives me hope. (Applause.)
Because in the end, it is up to us. It’s not somebody else’s job, it’s not somebody else’s responsibility, but it’s the citizens of our countries and citizens of the world to bend that arc of history towards justice.
And that’s what democracy allows us to do. That’s why the most important office in any country is not president or prime minister. The most important title is “citizen.” (Applause.) And in all of our nations, it will always be our citizens who decide the kind of countries we will be, the ideals that we will reach for, and the values that will define us. In this great, imperfect, but necessary system of self-government, power and progress will always come from the demos — from “We, the people.” And I’m confident that as long as we are true to that system of self-government, that our futures will be bright.
Thank you very much. (Applause.) Zito I Ellas. (Applause.)