As such, I am charged with the constitutional duty, which I am resolved to carry out, of serving the interests of the members of all groups of our people and doing justice to every man. It is in this spirit that I now come before you. For in administering the affairs of this nation, you and I share the common responsibility of providing the leadership, the guidance and the service that a democratic government owes to the people.
You and I must provide for their enjoyment of those basic requisites for decent living and of those adequate opportunities for the attainment of material prosperity and spiritual fulfillment. Only thus will they be able to stand in dignity and freedom in the community of nations. We assume our joint responsibilities at a time when the Nation is faced with many serious problems. The eyes of the world are focused on us, anxious to see how this new Government will face the difficulties confronting it.
Our performance will be judged not only by our own people but also by the other nations of the world, not only by the present but also by posterity. Because of the impelling and serious problems facing the country today, I should like to depart from the traditional practice of my illustrious predecessors of delivering an all-embracing State of the Nation message. I shall not burden you now with all the details usually embodied in such a message, especially those related to the customary and routinary activities of the government.
While it is recognized that such functions deserve equal and proper attention, I believe it would be more in keeping with the exigencies of the moment to submit, at the proper time and in the hour of need, such special messages to Congress on these matters as may be warranted by circumstances. In the interest of priority of purpose, therefore, I beg leave to submit for the consideration of this Congress only the most paramount problems of the Nation which, in my considered opinion, require immediate and preferential attention. STATEMENT OF OUR MISSION
In my inaugural address, I set forth the goals of our Administration in the coming years, as follows— 1. The solution of the problem of corruption; 2. The attainment of self-sufficiency in the staple food of our people, namely, rice and corn; 3. The creation of conditions that will provide more income to our people—income for those who have none and more income for those whose earnings are inadequate for their elemental needs; 4. The establishment of practices that will strengthen the moral fiber of our nation and reintroduce those values that would invigorate our democracy; and 5.
The launching of a bold but well-formulated socio-economic program that shall place the country on the road to prosperity for all our people. This five-fold mission may be carried out by resolving two major problems, namely—the need for moral regeneration and the problem of economic growth. Democracy on Trial In the accomplishment of our mission, we have chosen the freedom of democracy as the context for the solution of our problems. Democracy is truly on trial along with us in our social and economic travails.
By our success or failure in leading the Nation from the abyss of want to the plateau of abundance, not only ourselves but also our way of life will be judged. If we falter, we shall fail democracy as well as our people and thus bolster communism’s boast that it is a superior political system. But if we succeed in laying a dynamic and permanent base for justice and prosperity in this country, we shall vindicate not only ourselves but democracy itself. Therefore, I first invite your attention to the decadent state of our public morality.
Our efforts to achieve the goal of economic and social fulfillment will be more effective and the results we obtain more permanent only if we can suffuse them with a pervasive moral regeneration. At my inauguration, I stated that I would seek to strengthen the nation’s moral fiber through formal modes of reform, enforcement of the laws and the exercise of the tremendous persuasive power of the Presidency in setting the personal example of honesty, uprightness and simple living.
The enforcement of the law is solely the responsibility of the Executive Department, but I invite all to join the Executive in wielding the potent power of moral example, and I particularly urge the Congress to assist in conceiving those reforms that will contribute to a moral renaissance of our people. Let me, however, add that it is wasted effort to steep the young in virtue and morality only to let them realize as they grow up that their elders are neither moral nor virtuous.
We -must, therefore, see to it that the practices allowed by law in government and business, in the professions and labor unions, in field and factory—in every area of national endeavor—conform as much as possible with the moral and the ethical. Such practices can be sustained and upheld only if we can at the same time create a sthrong public opinion that will actively approve them and vigilantly condemn the contrary. In our actions, we should not be guided only by what is legal. We must go beyond legality into the demands of morality. Our acts must not only be legal but must be moral as well.