Birthday Boy: 7 Inspirational Quotes From Barack Obama

Former US President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the 7th summit of 'Les Napoleons' at Maison de la Radio on December 2, 2017 in Paris, France.

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images.

Former U.S. president Barack Obama turns 58 this week (Aug. 4). To mark the occasion we look back at some of his most inspiring pearls of wisdom.

Since Donald Trump has taken office, Obama’s inspiring speeches have taken on a somewhat therapeutic function.

Who can forget his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address, where he famously told the crowd, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”

Or back in 2008, when “Yes We Can” became a slogan for his campaign (along with “Change We Can Believe In”) after his inspiring primary speech in New Hampshire: “When we have faced down impossible odds; when we’ve been told that we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t try, or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.”

Thankfully, even with his days in the Oval Office well behind him, Obama still provides us with regular doses of the intelligence and charisma we’re so desperately lacking in a Trumped-up political climate.

In honour of Obama’s birthday, we take a look at words of wisdom from the man who can rightfully claim he has the “best words.”

Obama smiling from ear to ear on a black background.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.

1. On “remaking the world”

“My message to you is simple — keep believing, keep marching, keep building, keep raising your voice. Every generation has the opportunity to remake the world. Mandela said, ‘Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.’ Now is a good time to be aroused. Now is a good time to be fired up.” — July 17, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 100 birthday

2. On love 

“Love comes more naturally to the human heart. Let’s remember that truth. Let’s see it as our North Star. Let’s be joyful in our struggle to make that truth manifest here on earth…” — July 17, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 100 birthday

3. On change

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Feb. 5, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois (Super Tuesday)

4. On the current state of politics

“Look around. Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections and some pretence of democracy are maintained — the form of it — but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.” — July 17, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 100 birthday

5. On ambition

“We need to steer clear of this poverty of ambition, where people want to drive fancy cars and wear nice clothes and live in nice apartments but don’t want to work hard to accomplish these things. Everyone should try to realize their full potential.” Barack Obama in His Own Words (2008) by: Lisa Rogak 

6. On living to your full potential

“Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you end up.” — Sept. 9, 2009, to high school students in Arlington, Virginia 

7. On women

“We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacle to their achievements and no remaining ceilings to shatter.” — Ahead of International Women’s Day 2011, Obama issued a proclamation recommitting his administration to helping women