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My fellow Americans, this is an amazing moment for me. To think that a once-scrawny boy from Austria could grow up to become governor of the state of California and then stand here… then stand here in Madison Square Garden and speak on behalf of the president of the United States – that is an immigrant’s dream. It is the American dream.
Riches, power and fame last only for a few years! Why do people cling so desperately to these transitory things? Why can’t people who have more than they need for themselves give that surplus to their fellow citizens? Why should some people have such a hard time during their few years on this earth?
From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.
My favourite fellow of the Royal Society is the Reverend Thomas Bayes, an obscure 18th-century Kent clergyman and a brilliant mathematician who devised a complex equation known as the Bayes theorem, which can be used to work out probability distributions. It had no practical application in his lifetime, but today, thanks to computers, is routinely used in the modelling of climate change, astrophysics and stock-market analysis.
But even friendship like our heroes’ Exist no more; for we’ve outgrown All sentiments and deem men zeroes– Except of course ourselves alone. We all take on Napoleon’s features, And millions of our fellow creatures Are nothing more to us than tools… Since feelings are for freaks and fools. Eugene, of course, had keen perceptions And on the whole despised mankind, Yet wasn’t, like so many, blind; And since each rule permits exceptions, He did respect a noble few, And, cold himself, gave warmth its due.
Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception. The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know. Planetary scale is your little secret.