But I do want to quibble with one point. Late in the speech Obama said:
There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples -- a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today. [Full text of the speech here.]
It's a great point. It's true. I'm glad he said it.
But "do unto others" doesn't come from religion. It comes from biology. We see rudimentary forms of "do unto others" and other cooperative behavior in the animal kingdom (see for example, The Evolution of Morality by Richard Joyce or The Moral Animal by Robert Wright). I don't see why Christianity or Judaism or Islam always gets credit for the genius of "do unto others" when in fact, "do unto others" came pre-loaded with the operating systems we are all born with. The craziest thing about religion is that, in fact, religious zealots often exhibit precisely the sort of behavior that VIOLATES the principle of "do unto others" (think for example about suicide bombers or the Catholic Church moving pedophile priests from one church to another) -- and they often take these sociopathic actions in the name of their religion. Don't get me wrong, I love "do unto others" and indeed I DO think it is the foundation of morality and ethics across all cultures. But we gotta give credit to Mother Nature -- not Jesus, Abraham, Mohamed, Buddha, or Krishna.
[And another time I imagine we can debate whether the phrase is actually "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or rather "do NOT do unto others as you would have them not do unto you" (I've heard it both ways but the meaning between the two is slightly different if you think about it).]