A Farewell to Charms
By Megan Wallin
President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address was met with words like “soaring” and “powerful.” Diana Pearl’s article for “People” documented Twitter reactions, ranging from emotional:
Watching Malia Obama cry as her father talks about what a role model her mom has been is officially the moment I lost it. #Farewell44
#WhereIsSasha Hopefully blocking the driveway to the White House
Hope you enjoyed Obama’s speech. You won’t hear anything so cogent and kind for a long time. So, with complete sincerity: THANKS, OBAMA.
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But one thing we’ll all miss (if we’re honest) is having a commander-in-chief who can deliver a speech that doesn’t sound like a 4th grader wrote it and an angsty teenager is reading it. Yes, it was also refreshing knowing that our president valued scientific evidence, attended to building political alliances rather than settling family vendettas, supported the rights of all Americans to marry whomever they choose, and saw Healthcare as a priority.
As so aptly stated in his final address to the nation, “It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.”
Opinion here may well lessen the impact of any thoughts, but seeing as how no one is exactly neutral—and most people who aren’t neutral these days have given up respect as well—one little opinion piece can’t hurt.
Frankly, the Obama Administration disappointed some and pleasantly surprised others, but it would be insincere and bordering on vindictive to call the Obama family anything other than a prime example of class, integrity and kindness in how they have all conducted themselves in the very public scrutiny of the public eye, during a time of record-high tensions.
Of course, that’s not what a Farewell Address focuses on, but you can’t help but get personal. Over the course of nearly a decade, the American people build more than an allegiance to their leader. We build a relationship. The reason for that lies in those sacred words implying that the government works for us, not the other way around.
On that note, Obama mentioned democracy (soon to be known as democrazy) more than fifteen times in an era where that fundamental concept has been not only tested but seemingly devalued and disregarded in our election process. And the House, already working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, acts collectively now as the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
To those who are wealthy enough to believe that their hard work is the sole cause of their success, and that the insurance through their job is because they have earned it, I encourage you to look at the people working in your child’s preschool or strike up a conversation with the gas attendant who gives you change when you stop during your commute. They, along with me a few years back and so many others still, work hard and needed that Healthcare. We are still a country with an embarrassingly bad habit of neglecting preventive care. We have higher morbidity rates for infants than any other developed nation. Much of this has begun to change, slowly but surely—and could continue to—under the policies of this now passing Administration.
Personal politics should not define who gets to live well and who fights to just live.
If you take nothing else away from this Farewell, it’s that we don’t have to say farewell to kindness, courtesy or patience. We don’t have to let ourselves accept rude Twitter rants as the primary means of our leader’s expression. We cannot anyone the weaker or poorer to be silenced simply because the stronger or wealthier are not directly affected.
Obama touched on immigration rights, on shared economic opportunities, and on the duty we have to look out for one another with a United front. Divided people are easy to manipulate and rule. And that is no state of democracy. That is no America.
Let’s not let this be a Farewell Address to the nation we loved, which has continued to thrive through so many different influencers and ideologies, but a Farewell to a younger, more naïve group of people who are still learning how to co-exist without killing each other.
“Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face. We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on earth.
Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.”
Top photo from YouTube
Megan Wallin is a young writer with a background in the social sciences and an interest in seeking the extraordinary in the mundane. A Seattle native, she finds complaining about the constant drizzle and overabundance of Starbucks coffee therapeutic. With varied work experiences as a residential counselor, preprimary educator, musician, writing tutor and college newspaper reporter/editor, Megan is thrilled to offer a unique perspective through writing, research and open dialogue.