…it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds. …
President Barack Obama, Tucson Arizona
I am a regular housewife, mom and new immigrant to this country and, like most, I will probably leave this world like I came in: anonymously and quietly.
Most in this world do not have an opportunity to make a visible impact upon their life cycles on this earth. We enter and we leave with just those in our small corner knowing how we lived, loved, laughed and lost.
However, President Obama is one of those people who is meant to make an impact. He entered this world like most of us, without much fanfare or bells and whistles, but he is the leader meant for this moment in our life time.
Since the senseless tragedy of Tucson, Arizona occurred over a week ago, we have seen the best and worst of our country. There was coverage of the people who ran into the hail of bullets and confronted evil in the face; there was coverage of the back and forth between those who wanted to place blame; there was ample coverage of the perpetrator who obviously is a deranged individual who needs professional help. However, in his speech at the Tuscon memorial service, not even the divisive, defensive and confrontational language of a 2 term Governor could have dampened the soaring spirits of a country much in need of a big, compassionate rhetorical hug from the man who leads us all: our President, Barack Obama.
He rose to the occasion and then some.
Since the President’s election and inauguration he has striven to show us the way in his words and his deeds but a country seeped in pain and whipped up in fear could not hear. Those who bartered in the currency of hate and rancor were the ones whose voices rose to the top and were given platforms by a media jockeying for top place in a new marketplace of immediacy. I tried in my small way to express from my back bench as a faceless resident to call out for everyone to listen and to hear.
I wrote about the fear I felt everyday when my African-American husband went to work because we truly felt that our dark skins physically linked us to a President with whom some felt racial animus. The horrible and sickening images of nooses, water melons on the White House lawn and disfigured pictures of the President’s face made us, as a family, anxious and wary especially from our perch in a mostly Caucasian suburban state.
In one of my published columns I expressed my longing for us all to rise above the anger and bile in our political discourse. I did not expect to be widely published or heard but in my small way, I felt I was contributing in the only way I know how: with words.
I made a determination when 2011 opened that I was going to adhere to the famous words of the 1927 American Poet Max Ehrmann to uplift my own life on a daily basis.
In his epic and life affirming poem Ehrmann penned, in indelible ink, the need for human beings to see the good in and around us. He wanted to enshrine in our thoughts for life times to come, that even though there was pain and suffering in this world, we should “let not this blind” us “to what virtue there is”.
The first thing I do every morning and last thing every night, is to listen to the full poem. I do so because I feel that there is a need in my life to be reminded on a constant basis of the gratitude I feel to be a Permanent Resident of this country and citizen of this world at this time.
President Obama embedded the principle of Desiderata in his words last night asking us not to be ‘blind’ to the ‘virtue’ within our fellow citizens and to uplift each other with words that help and not tear down. Maybe his words will be heard and followed by all that they touched.
We can only hope.