farewell, obama, i'll miss you.
For those of you that didn't catch Obama's farewell speech tonight, I implore you to watch it in it's entirety.
For those of you that supported him, voted for him, stuck by his side, watch with joy. Joy that we had the pleasure of watching him serve our country and our citizens for the last eight years. Joy that we made history by electing a black president. Joy that the country has improved vastly throughout his tenure. Joy through his positivity, optimism, hope. Joy through the love he has for his wife, family, friends, country, people.
For those of you that did not support him, do not share the same values as him, do not agree with his policies. Watch with an open mind. Watch his optimism, watch his love, watch his pride. Note how he does not play into fear and hatred of the other, but how he embraces it. Note that he does not rally the crowd against another person, but for every other person. Policies aside, observe his call to listen, learn, discuss, and argue, not for the sake of alienating or fighting or hating, but for the sake of change and progress and the future of our country.
Lately I have often found myself stuck in a place of fear, anger, and, I'll be honest, hatred, for the next four years. But tonight, amid my tears, I was reminded that there is hope, and that we the people are the ones that have the power to rise above the constant negative rhetoric, fear mongering, and hatred of the other. We the people have the responsibility to ignite change for the better, to make America a place that we are all proud to call home, to be better, and inspire those around us to be better too.
So thank you, Obama. Thank you not only for what you've done for our country politically, but thank you for continually reminding me that there is still hope, and that yes, we can.
But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
For blacks and other minority groups, that means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face. Not only the refugee or the immigrant or the rural poor or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic, and cultural, and technological change.
We have to pay attention and listen.
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment that our founders promised.
For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, and Italians, and Poles, who it was said were going to destroy the fundamental character of America. And as it turned out, America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; these newcomers embraced this nation’s creed, and this nation was strengthened.
So regardless of the station we occupy; we all have to try harder; we all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.