President Barack & Michelle Obama
If I had my own Mount Rushmore it would include Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama and Barack Hussein Obama II. As their term comes to an end I can’t help but feel some sadness. Regardless of how you feel about their political beliefs you have to acknowledge you have experienced history with this presidency.
When you look at the history of the United States there is a lot to be excited about but there are also periods in its past that many would like to forget: slavery, segregation, the inability for blacks to vote. It is unbelievable to think that a country that once embraced those values elected a black man President not once, but twice. I have relatives who unfortunately did not live long enough to see this happen, and there are also those of a younger generation who take such an event for granted (which is also a sign of progress)
The fact that President Obama was the first black President is in itself fascinating but there is so much more. President Obama and his wife made us feel that the White House is for everybody. There was nothing about him that felt phony or fake. He was a Commander in Chief for everyone.
In job interviews a question that comes up from time to time is ‘Are you a leader or a manager?’ A manager manages a process while a leader affects change in their staff and inspires the people around them. Make no mistake about it President Obama is a leader.
He wasn’t rattled by tough questions from the press corps, he was never seen as a bully. He instilled confidence in those around him and set an amazing example for future generations.
To say the US election of 2016 was nasty would be an understatement but it also reminded us of a few things. It reminded us of how fortunate we were to have President Obama in the Oval Office. But it also reminded us of what great leadership is. He immediately reached out to President-Elect Trump and offered his support. He stated “I want him to succeed because if he succeeds so does the country.”
In a time when the world was having all sorts of reactions to the election results President Obama did what he always does, he stepped up as a leader.
They used to say ‘Behind every great man is a great woman.’ That phrase is thankfully out of date. The proof: Michelle Obama doesn’t stand behind anybody, but beside the President. She truly was the people’s First Lady.
And while it is easy to get distracted by her fun personality, great sense of humour and extreme intelligence let us not forget that the First Lady cares very deeply for the future of the US and her causes. She has been very involved in getting people more physically active to help with the obesity issues facing the United States; in the rights of the LGBT community, including same sex marriage; and in the Let Girls Learn movement, which provides education for young women around the world.
In 2016 she was known for her message of ‘When they go low, we go high’ and as amazing as that is I think of how wonderful she is for attempting to do all she can for those around her.
When I think of the difference between good and great I usually equate greatness with those who do what they can to not only better themselves but those around them. If you’re a great actor, when you are on set you attempt to help other actors have better performances. If you are a great parent you attempt to provide your child with all of the tools they will need to be successful. If you are great at riding roller coasters you can provide tips to others to assist them in being able to deal with it. (Greatness really does apply to everything)
Let there be no doubt: President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama are great people. When the new administration takes office I will be taking more than a moment to reflect on who is leaving.
The President and First Lady brought change to the White House and showed that anything is possible. They occupied their position with class and grace and were role models for all communities. They didn’t cure racism but they showed what is possible.
Those are the reasons why I find President and Mrs. Obama fascinating.