Dr. Schramm has suggested in the past that Condi Rice replace Dick Cheney as the Vice Presidential Candidate in 2004. I remain unpersuaded for 2004 but I am now perfectly happy to have a Cheney-Rice ticket in 2008. Read Condoleeza Rice’s powerful speech yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast:
Remarks by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice
at the National Prayer Breakfast
Washington Hilton Hotel
February 6, 2003
I am greatly honored by the invitation to speak here this morning. It is a
day when official Washington gathers not as Republicans or Democrats; not as
conservatives or liberals; nor as Christians, Jews, or Muslims. Rather, we
are gathered as a fellowship of the faithful who share a love of God and who
embrace God’s will and ways - even in moments of pain and loss, like right
now, when those ways seem so mysterious to us. Today, our Nation’s thoughts
are with the seven brave souls taken from us five mornings ago. We pray
that in losing their mortal lives they have found life eternal in His care.
I approach the honor of addressing you with a deep sense of humility. I am
not a member of any clergy. I am, however, the daughter, the granddaughter
and, indeed, the niece, of ordained Presbyterian ministers. So in some ways
this occasion feels very familiar to me.
Sundays in my family meant church. It was the center of our lives. In
segregated black Birmingham of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the church
was not just a place of worship; it was the social and civic center of our
Throughout my life I have never doubted the existence of God, but, like most
people, I have had some ups and downs in practicing my faith. After I moved
to California in 1981 to join the faculty at Stanford, there were a lot of
years when I was not attending church regularly. I was traveling a great
deal, always in a different time zone, and going to church too often fell by
Then something happened that I will always remember. One Sunday morning I
was approached at the supermarket by a man buying some things for his church
picnic. He asked me, "Do you play the piano by any chance?" I said, "Yes."
And he said his congregation was looking for someone to play the piano at
their church. It was a small African-American church in the center of Palo
Alto and I started playing there every Sunday. And I thought to myself, "My
goodness, God has a long reach - all the way to a Lucky’s Supermarket in the
spice section on a Sunday morning."
The only problem was, it was a Baptist church and I don’t play gospel very
well, unlike our great Attorney General John Ashcroft. I play Brahms. At
this church the minister would start with a song and the musicians had to
pick it up. I had no idea what I was doing. So I called my mother, who had
played for Baptist churches, to ask her for advice. She said, "Honey, just
play in C and they’ll come back to you." And that’s true. If you play in
C, the foundational key in music, people will come back. Perhaps God plays
in C, and that’s why we always seem to find our way back to Him, sometimes
in spite of ourselves.
Looking back on the years since I found my way back, it is hard for me to
imagine my life without a strong and active faith. Faith is what gives me
comfort, and humility, and hope . even through the darkest hours. Like many
people - here and abroad - I have turned to God and prayer more and more
this past year and a half, including this past Saturday morning. Terror and
tragedy have made us more aware of our vulnerability and our own mortality.
We are living through a time of testing and consequence - and praying that
our wisdom and will are equal to the work before us. And it is at times
like these that we are reminded of a paradox, that it is a privilege to
struggle. A privilege to struggle for what is right and true. A privilege
to struggle for freedom over tyranny. A privilege, even, to struggle with
the most difficult and profound moral choices.
American slaves used to sing, "Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen - Glory
Hallelujah!" Growing up, I would often wonder at the seeming contradiction
contained in this line. But as I grew older, I came to learn that there is
no contradiction at all.
I believe this same message is found in the Bible in Romans 5, where we are
told to "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces
endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our
hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."
For me, this message has two lessons.
First, there is the lesson that only through struggle do we realize the
depths of our resilience and understand that the hardest of blows can be
survived and overcome. Too often when all is well, we slip into the false
joy and satisfaction of the material and a complacent pride and faith in
ourselves. Yet it is through struggle that we find redemption and
self-knowledge. In this sense it is a privilege to struggle because it
frees one from the idea that the human spirit is fragile, like a house of
cards, or that human strength is fleeting.
We see this theme in illustrated in sacred texts the world over. In the
Book of Job, God tests Job’s faith by taking from him everything that he
cherishes—his wealth, his health, and his family. Early in his trials,
one of Job’s friends counsels him to be patient, saying, "Behold, happy is
the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of
the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his
hands make whole ... In famine he shall redeem thee from death; and in war
from the power of the sword ... And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle
shall be in peace ..." In the end, Job’s sufferings strengthen his faith
and, we are told, he is rewarded with "twice as much as he had before" and
he lived "a hundred and forty years" until he was "old and full of days."
We learn in times of personal struggle - the loss of a loved one, illness,
or turmoil - that there is a peace that passeth understanding. When our
intellect is unequal to the task - the spirit takes over, finding peace in
the midst of pain is the true fulfillment of one’s humanity.
Struggle doesn’t just strengthen us to survive hard times - it is also the
key foundation for true optimism and accomplishment. Indeed, personal
achievement without struggle somehow feels incomplete and hollow. It is
true too for human kind - because nothing of lasting value has ever been
achieved without sacrifice.
There is a second, more important, lesson to be learned from struggle and
suffering is that we can use the strength it gives us for the good of
others. Nothing good is born of personal struggle if it is used to fuel one
’s sense of entitlement, or superiority to those who we perceive to have
struggled less than we. Everyone in this room has been blessed, and I am
sure we all know that it is dangerous to think about the hand that one has
been dealt relative to others if it ends in questioning why someone else has
more. It is, on the other hand, sobering and humbling to think about one’s
blessings and to ask why you have been given so much when others have so
Our goal must not be to get through a struggle so that others can
congratulate us on our resilience, nor is it to dwell on struggle as a badge
Perhaps this is why in describing his personal struggle, the Apostle Paul
felt it necessary to say to the Philippians, "Forgetting those things that
are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead . I press
toward the goal for the price of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
We find a similar idea in the Talmud, which says "one should only pray in a
house that has windows" - in order that we may remember the outside world.
And in the Hadith, we find Muhammad saying: "No one of you is a believer
until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself."
But to direct the energies from our struggles toward the good of others, we
must first let go of the pain, and the bad memories, and the sense of
unfairness—of "Why me?" - that inevitably accompany deep personal
I believe this lesson applies not only to individuals, but to nations.
America emerged from the losses of September 11th as a nation that is not
only stronger, but hopefully better and more generous. Tragedy made us
appreciate our freedom more - and more conscious of the fact that God gives
all people, everywhere, the right to be free. It made us more thankful for
our own prosperity, for life, and health - and more aware that all people,
everywhere deserve the opportunity to build a better future.
It prompted us to cultivate what the President has called "the habit of
service" to others so that the "gathering momentum of millions of acts of
kindness" may bring hope to people in desperate need. And perhaps most
importantly, September 11th reminded us of our heritage as a tolerant
nation; one that welcomes people of all faiths, or no faith at all.
Now, as our Nation once again deals with great loss, with fears and
uncertainties, let us once again recommit ourselves to those values which
define us. Let us renew our quest for understanding the natural world and
all the heavens which God has made. Let us renew our commitment to standing
for life, and liberty, and peace for all people. Let us renew our
commitment to working with all nations to conquer want, and hunger, and
disease in every corner of the globe. Let us accept our responsibility to
defend the freedom which we are so privileged to enjoy.
If terror and tragedy spur us to rediscover and strengthen these
commitments, then we can truly say that some good has come from great loss.
And in all the trials that may lie ahead, we will carry these commitments
close to our heart so we may leave a better world for those who follow.
This is our prayer for our Nation and our people. This is our prayer for
all Nations and all peoples. Lord, hear our prayer.