September 22, 1986: Ronald Reagan Addresses the United Nations

Reagan“How ironic it is that some continue to espouse such ideas as a `new international economic order’’ based on state control when the world is learning, as never before, that the freedom of the individual, not the power of the state, is the key to economic dynamism and growth. Nations have turned away from centralized management and government controls and toward the incentives and rewards of the free market. They have invited their citizens to develop their talents and abilities to the fullest and, in the process, to provide jobs, to create wealth, to build social stability and foster faith in the future for all. . .

The United States believes the greatest contribution we can make to world prosperity is the continued advocacy of the magic of the marketplace — the truth, the simple and proven truth, that economic development is an outgrowth of economic freedom just as economic freedom is the inseparable twin of political freedom and democratic government …

Some have accused me of telling people what they want to hear, of urging them not to engage the day but to escape it. Yet, to hope is to believe in humanity and in its future. Hope remains the highest reality, the age-old power. Hope is at the root of all the great ideas and causes that have bettered the lot of humankind across the centuries. History teaches us to hope, for it teaches us about man and about the irrepressible human spirit…

A Nobel laureate in literature, a great figure of the American South, William Faulkner, once said that the last sound heard on Earth would be that of the two remaining humans arguing over where to go in the spaceship they had built. In his speech to the Nobel committee in 1950, Faulkner spoke of the nuclear age, of the general and universal physical fear it had engendered, a fear of destruction that had become almost unbearable. But he said, “I decline to accept the end of man. I believe that man will not merely endure, he will prevail. He is immortal . . . because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.” Faulkner spoke of “the old verities and truths of the heart” — of the courage, honor, pride, compassion, pity, sacrifice, and, yes, that hope which is the glory of our past. And all of these things we find today in our present; we must use them to build our future.

And it’s why today we can lift up our spirits and our hearts. It is why we resolve that with God’s help the cause of humanity will not merely endure but prevail; that someday all the world — every nation, every people, every person — will know the blessings of peace and see the light of freedom.

Thank you, and God bless you.

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