Influential and instrumental. Influential

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Advanced Level English Language: Language and society – language and power

One obvious feature of how language operates in social interactions is its relationship with power, both influential and instrumental. Influential power is not sanctioned by rule, discipline or hierarchy. It inclines us or makes us want to behave in certain ways or adopt opinions or attitudes, without obvious force. It operates in such social phenomena as advertising, culture and the media. Instrumental power is explicit power of the sort imposed by the state, by its laws and conventions or by the organizations for which we work. It operates in business, education and various kinds of management.
In some spheres of social activity, such as politics or law, both kinds of power may be present: we are subject to laws, but some legal processes, such as trial by jury, rely on attempts to persuade. Politicians impose laws taxes, and bureaucratic systems but seek to influence us to endorse their policies or turn out to vote for them. They may wish to influence to use our collective power to return them to office, where they will use their executive power to direct some aspects of our lives – a curious paradox of our system of parliamentary democratic representation.
In looking at how power is exercised through language, you should be able to refer to real examples you have found, and explain these texts. But you should also have a theoretical approach which will enable you to interpret language data you are presented with in an exam. Among other things, you should look at lexis and semantics (forms and meanings), forms that include or exclude (insiders or outsiders), structures (at phrase, clause and discourse level), forms of address, phatic tokens, as well as structural features of speech, which may be used to exercise or establish power. Consider, for example, how conversational maxims may be adapted for reasons of expedience, rather than integrity. Does all power corrupt in language, as (according to Lord Acton) it does generally?
Influential power – advertising
Broadly speaking, advertisers persuade their audience to adopt attitudes to lifestyle, products and services. It is rare to find advertising that seeks to influence explicitly or directly. Less rare are advertisements in which the link to a product or service is implicit or ambiguous. Consider a TV advertisement (May 2000) which depicts an amputee fashion model, preparing for the finale of a fashion show – the advertisement is made for an Internet service provider, FreeServe, but does no more than show the company name and logo. There is an oblique link to the name of the company in the idea of the model’s freedom to run with the wild animals depicted in the fashion show.
Advertising has a lexicon, which may change over time, but is fairly stable – new, improved, proven and other qualifiers are seen as reliable. David Ogilvy in Confessions of an Advertising Man (quoted by Shirley Russell; Grammar, Structure and Style, Oxford, 1994, p. 177) identifies a basic lexicon of qualifiers such as: new, good, crisp, better, fresh, natural, fine, free, and of verbs such as: buy, give, taste, go, look, feel and use. Special registers (technical, scientific or pseudo-scientific) may be used for appropriate products. Torque, BHP, valve, ABS for cars or keramides, pro-B, hypoallergenic in personal hygiene products. Look out for special lexical uses according to product, image and target market. “Pot Noodle – everything else is just pants”. Pants is fashionable as a mild term of disapproval among young people (especially young men) who may be supposed to want food which is inexpensive, quick to make, and needs no special preparation or utensils.
Advertising borrows and adapts structures and forms from texts of all kinds. Many broadcast advertisements are dramatic, with a narrative conducted through dialogue. Others may show a narrative by images alone, to the accompaniment of music and/or a voiceover. Can you think of examples? Puns, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, rhyme and other kinds of comic or poetic wordplay are common in advertising. Ambiguity, irony and allusion (reference) are also powerful techniques.

Influential power – media (broadcast, print, new technologies)
While any text may be influenced by the maker’s preconceptions and world view, many media texts arise from an explicit intention of promoting given values or attitudes, whether sincerely, because the author believes in them, or cynically, to attract an audience. As students of language, you have no interest in this – your concern is the language features in which these attitudes are embodied or expressed. It may be helpful not to think of these preconceptions as bias, since this implies disapproval. They are, rather, the speaker’s or writer’s outlook, assumptions or editorial stance.
Be aware that certain media texts proclaim and admit these underlying attitudes – opinion columns or current affairs broadcasts explicitly adopt such a stance. But others, such as reporting, may aspire to neutrality, yet display the author’s value systems by choices of lexis or current metaphors. Do we read of refugees, economic migrants or asylum seekers? Are they bogus, and are they passing through open (or about-to-be-open) floodgates? (How often do you meet floodgates in a literal, rather than metaphorical sense?) Are those who resist the state guerrillas, freedom fighters or terrorists? Is legality a fig-leaf to cover morality, so “legal” intoxicants (alcohol, tobacco) are distinguished from those that are illegal, and so referred to as drugs.
New media texts may reveal very different attitudes, but in similar ways – they, too, have distinctive lexis and metaphors. Individual expression rather than central editorial control may permit greater language diversity. Perhaps influential power is less monolithic, but appears in trends and fashions. There is plenty of space for critics – the World Wide Web abound with sites which proclaim why X sucks, where X is a powerful business corporation.
Influential power – culture
The notion of a canon of classic works of art has not gone away, but is in creative tension with alternative contemporary visions. We cannot readily call these modern since this label has been appropriated for works from the early 20th century, and post-modern smacks of the 1980s. Some works, hailed in the moment of publication or exhibition as masterpieces, are quickly forgotten. Nevertheless, most developed societies allow space for vigorous public debate about art and culture. And we are comfortable with a distinction between popular, lowbrow or commercial music, writing and so on, and serious, classical or highbrow art.
Culture, especially popular culture, exerts a massive influence on how people think and see the world. And this is reflected in a range of language forms. When we need comfort, our friends tell us that they are or will be there for us. Unless we are pedantic we do not ask where there is. Soap operas and advertisements present us with tidy versions of real life scenarios and the language forms we need to understand or endure them: a lexicon for our troubles and problems, helpful phrases and even extended discourse structures or paradigms for coping. Have a good cry we are told, because we have to grieve (a metaphor of pressure which must be released before it does harm, often appears).
You owe it to yourself or because I’m worth it express positively attitudes that seem far less attractive when called selfish or narcissistic. The fictional trial of a character for a topical crime (rape, wife beating, road rage) may provoke intelligent reflection leading to greater understanding. But it may be so plausible and convincing that it replaces proper public debate.

Influential and instrumental power – politics
The features of political language vary, as do its purposes. Where politicians interact with society generally, their purposes may be, to persuade voters with a party loyalty to turn out to vote; to move a floating voter’s party allegiance, or to make us adopt general political or social attitudes, so we support a given policy. Politicians may also use particular language forms when answering journalists’ questions. Where politicians engage in language interactions with other politicians, they may use particular forms. And finally, a contemporary feature of political language use is what is known as spin – providing information to the media in such a way as to favour a desired interpretation, not explicitly stated.

Political rhetoric

Persuasive language techniques, especially in speech, take their name from the Greek noun for a professional speaker, rhetor (the Latin equivalent is orator). Many of these techniques are found in written records of speeches in the ancient world – such as Jesus’ use, in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels of parable, antithesis and patterned speech which even survive translation into English: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Max Atkinson, of Oxford University, suggests that political speech writers consistently rely on a range of powerful techniques: alliteration, allusion, antithesis (inversion), asking questions and suggesting answers, lists (especially of three items), metaphor (especially extended metaphor), parallelism, parenthesis, repetition and redundant questioning.
To see these in action, you should look at examples of speeches written for politicians, and find out how these work. Consider this extract from a speech made by the late Harold Wilson, the Labour leader, before the 1974 UK General Election:
“This election is not about the miners; not about the militants; not about the power of the unions: it’s about the disastrous failure of three and a half years of Conservative government which has turned Britain from the path of prosperity to the road of ruin.”
We find repetition of the formula “not about”, and antithesis between “is not about” and “it’s about”. “Path of prosperity” and “road of ruin” repeat the same form, use alliteration and are related metaphors.
In John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address from January 1961, we find an extended metaphor (of lighting a fire to give light to the world) and a concluding antithesis:
“The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour 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.”
The last two sentences use many of the same lexemes, but transpose subject and object.
For a humorous allusion, consider Margaret Thatcher’s:
“To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite modern catchphrase the ‘U- turn’, I have only one thing to say: You turn, if you like; the lady’s not for turning!”
There is a play on the homophones U-turn/you turn, and a reference to Mrs. Thatcher’s “Iron Lady” nickname, while the final phrase is a painful pun on the title of Christopher Fry’s play (about a witch): The Lady’s Not for Burning.

Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, borrowed an image from John Gillespie Magee’s poem High Flight to explain the disaster in 1986 when the Challenger space shuttle exploded:

“We will never forget them (the crew), nor the last time we saw them this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, and slipped the surly bonds of earth, to touch the face of God.”

The sound bite

Short slogans, like those in advertisements, often mark the speech of politicians answering questions from journalists (or their opponents). These are repeated in such a way as to persuade the listener of their truth or reason. For example, in defending policies which apparently increased unemployment in the UK but raised the value of the currency, Mrs. Thatcher coined the phrase: There is no alternative. Manifestly there were alternative suggested policies but denying their existence made them seem impractical. Whether or not they were really impractical is not the linguist’s concern: we are interested in the linguistic means by which Mrs. Thatcher justified her dismissal of them.

A very simple but effective sound bite is the name New Labour. New is well known as an effective qualifier in advertising, and the UK Labour Party in the 1990s was keen to distance itself from the (supposedly unelectable) Labour Party of the 1980s. Constant repetition of the name made it stick. When the Conservative Party, then in government, attacked New Labour, this reinforced the rebranding, and helped the Labour Party win the 1997 election.

Parliamentary and unparliamentary language

In the Houses of Parliament, a range of special language features marks proceedings. These include a special lexicon and forms of address, disallowing personally abusive epithets, and use of special structures. David Crystal (Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, p. 378) suggests also that maxims of conversational theory do not apply to parliamentary dialogue. Other participants or commentators do not assume that speakers are telling the truth, are speaking clearly or with relevance.

The special lexicon includes terms denoting the institutions, practices and officials of the parliament – bench (back bench, cross bench, front bench), Black Rod, speaker, under-secretary, whip (noun and verb). In a debate, a speaker may allow another speaker to interrupt his or her speaking. Asked, “Will you give way”, he or she may respond: “I will give way”. Etiquette dictates that the new speaker make a brief contribution before allowing the first speaker back. This is a highly formalized version of turn taking.
Forms of address may confuse the outsider. Simple forms include my honourable Friend, the honourable Gentleman or the honourable Member for Finchley. These denote an MP simply – other members are supposed to know who represents each constituency (electoral area). If the MP is a Privy Counsellor, then he or she is the right honourable Lady or Gentleman. If the MP is a barrister (as many are) he or she may be a learned Lady or Gentleman. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker chair debates. Remarks should be primarily addressed to them, using the formula Madam Speaker or Mr. Deputy Speaker…
In the House of Commons speakers may assert things which elsewhere would allow others to sue them for slander – this is Parliamentary Privilege. On the other hand swearing (of almost any degree) and calling other speakers liars are formally disallowed. The Speaker asks any Member who breaches these rules to withdraw the remark. If he or she persists, the Speaker may ban the offender from the House for a given period. To vote, members go through a lobby. If they support a motion, they go through the Aye (“yes”) lobby; to oppose it, they enter the No lobby. To give the result, the Speaker states the number of votes for Aye and No, and says that that either the Ayes or the Noes have it.

Influential and instrumental power – law
While some legal processes are used to enact power, others are devised to allow lawyers to persuade a judge or a jury, within an adversarial system of persuasion. This has its own distinctive language forms, and is much more constrained by rules than other kinds of persuasion – so much so that failure to obey the rules can overturn the decisions of a court. David Crystal (Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, p. 374) distinguishes between the language of the legislature (Parliament) which institutes a legal text (sets down the law in written form) and the language of the judiciary (law courts and judges) which interprets and applies it.

The lexicon of law

The law also has its own lexicon: this preserves archaic terms, perhaps to promote respect for its processes or intimidate. While this continues to be acceptable in criminal law, in April 1999 civil courts saw a change in their lexicon. A Mareva injunction (which freezes assets during litigation) became a freezing injunction, in camera became in private, a minor or infant became a child, a plaintiff a claimant, inter partes became with notice and ex parte became without notice, while pleading was replaced by statement of case. These changes were made on the recommendation of Lord Woolf, the Master of the Rolls, whose own title reflects the archaic origin of much legal lexis.

The Norman Conquest established French as the language of law and politics, while English only replaced Latin as the language of English law in the 17th century. For this reason Latin phrases (mens rea, ab initio, certiorari, ex parte) and French loanwords (lien, plaintiff, tort) abound.
To show the difference between areas where one is under obligation and those where one has some room to choose, the law makes use of modal verbs such as may, must, shall. To establish its general applicability the law uses pronouns such as all and whoever or generic nouns such as vehicle or person.
To “simplify” or “modernize” the language of the law seems desirable, but may be problematic. Ordinary people may have a better sense of understanding and therefore more respect for laws expressed simply and plainly. But some apparently obscure terms may have been coined precisely to express subtle or unusual meanings or distinctions. And if the law uses the common register, then an updated term may itself become obsolete, as its common meaning misleads people about its legal sense.

The structures of legal language

Law is often expressed in lengthy sentences marked by lists of items to ensure that nothing is missed out which the law should cover, so we know later whether or not it applies in a certain case. Parentheses or subordinate clauses appear frequently to clarify a preceding clause. Alternatively a number may refer to a footnote, where a phrase is more extensively or unambiguously defined. Legal documents are notorious for hyper-complex syntax, with several degrees of subordination of clauses. They also allow, often without clarifying punctuation, lengthy adverbial phrases: And any such release settlement discharge shall as between you and the undersigned be deemed to have been given or made upon the express condition that it shall become and be wholly void and of no effect if the assurance security or payment on the faith of which it was made or given shall be void…

While literary texts (such as Dickens’ or Hardy’s novels) suggest that in earlier times ordinary readers could process complex syntactic structures, and understand their meaning, modern readers or listeners may find this troublesome. Shorter and less complex syntax is easier to understand, while punctuation, typography and layout can all aid comprehension. It is not so much that lawyers in the past did not know how to make themselves understood. They simply never intended to do so.

Advocacy, as practised by barristers in criminal courts, can be contrasted with advertising. In one case, there are no rules, while approaches change and are pragmatic – do whatever works. Advertisers are constrained by some standards and a code of practice. But advocates are subject to very precise rules about evidence, kinds of argument and turn taking, among others, in a forum over which a judge presides.
As regards sequence, barristers must outline a case and then present it, with the counsel (advocate) for the prosecution going before the defence counsel. Each side may question its “own” witnesses, but the other side may subsequently cross-examine (question) them. Each side must sum up its case, and the judge must also sum up the whole proceedings and advise the jury about how to arrive at its verdict.
In asking a question of a witness, an advocate is not normally allowed to invite the witness to agree with a version of events the advocate has described – that is, by asking leading questions. In some states of the USA the opposing counsel may call out “Objection” and the judge may direct the jury to disregard what they have heard. In the UK, judges make such rulings without the protest of “Objection”.
In order to make the trial fair to the accused, the prosecution may not refer to any crimes of which he or she has been convicted in the past. And each side must disclose to the other, before the trial begins, the evidence they intend to use in the trial.
Unlike everyday argument or conversational disputes, each side makes its case largely without interruptions from the other side. Each may take as long as the evidence it presents allows – it is up to the judge to decide if something is not relevant and stop a line of questioning or argument. The closest thing to interruption is the chance to challenge a witness’s testimony in cross-examination.
The fundamental principle of advocacy is so familiar that its strangeness is often overlooked – that is, that experts in argument (advocates) compete, under known rules, to secure conviction or acquittal for another person. On occasions, in both criminal and civil trials, people do represent themselves. Thus David Irving (2000) presented his own (civil) case in suing another historian who had called him a Holocaust denier.
A jury has a difficult task, in attending both to the detail of a witness’s evidence or an advocate’s interpretation, as well as to the whole case presented by either side. Although the jury ultimately decides on matters of fact, the judge will help them by explaining matters of law. Thus, a verdict may depend not only on what the accused did or did not do, but also on the offence of which he or she is accused. In England and Wales, for most criminal offences, a verdict of guilty is represented as beyond reasonable doubt. The presiding judge may help the jury with the meaning of reasonable. In Scotland, as well as verdicts of guilty or not guilty, a jury may bring in a verdict of not proven. This allows them to indicate their uncertainty – the accused is not convicted, but does not walk away clear of suspicion.
In studying the language of the law, you may think primarily of those who speak and write it, but be aware also of listeners or readers. In the case of a jury, a very unusual kind of listening (and reading) is required. The jury is able to make requests of the judge, for example, to look again at a record of some part of a trial, but its discretion is limited by what the judge allows or thinks appropriate.

  • Law – different legal processes (procedures in court, advocacy, orders, judgements)

  • Education – how language features are used for this

  • Business – development of special register (lexicon, semantics)

  • Management – explicit search for power and influence (analogy to religion – guru etc.)

Influential and instrumental power –
Conversational analysis
Sound bite, political interview, debate, discussion forum
Stylistic analysis of texts: use these examples, as well as others you find for yourself

  • Educational or instructional texts (teaching guides, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Health Education etc.)

  • Legal documents (will, deed of covenant, deed of purchase)

  • Advertisements in a range of forms or media

  • Broadcast and print media texts

In the long history of the world only a few generations have been granted the rôle 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 endeavour 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.

John F. Kennedy
Suddenly the nation has been plunged into a midwinter election. You must be asking why has Mr. Heath decided to make a desperate run for it. It can’t be because of the dispute with the miners. Mr. Heath can’t be asking you to vote him back so that he can make an honourable settlement with the miners. No, Mr. Heath is making a run for it, in the hope that the smokescreen of the miners’ dispute - a dispute that he has deliberately stoked up – will distract you from the real issues. This election is not about the miners; not about the militants; not about the power of the unions: it’s about the disastrous failure of three and a half years of Conservative government which has turned Britain from the path of prosperity to the road of ruin.

Harold Wilson
To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite modern catchphrase the “U- turn”, I have only one thing to say: You turn, if you like; the lady’s not for turning!

Margaret Thatcher
I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises: you start with far-fetched resolutions; they are then pickled into a rigid dogma cold. And you go through the years, sticking to that: outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs. And you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council – hiring taxis to scuttle round a city, handing out redundancy notices to its own workers. I’m telling you now: no matter how entertaining, how fulfilling to short-term egos – I’ll tell you and you’ll listen – I’m telling you, I’m telling you – you can’t play politics with people’s jobs and people’s services.

Neil Kinnock
And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s take-off. I know it’s hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance, of expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the faint-hearted. It belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future and we’ll continue to follow them. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, and slipped the surly bonds of earth, to touch the face of God.

Ronald Reagan

Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, 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 forebears 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, in order 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 peoples in the huts and villages across 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 to 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 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 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 in 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 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.

John F. Kennedy

Inaugural Address

Friday, January 20, 1961

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