The Strength of a Statesman

obama

Last night I couldn’t wait to hear what former President Obama would say to our nation of 2020 graduates. He has always, since that first stump speech, tried to provide a positive perspective on our lives. Whether people would like to simply reduce his words to only rhetoric, the fact remains they are his own, whether rehearsed or spontaneous. I think it is important to recognize how a public figure in our lives can become a Statesman, and just how much strength that gives them in respect to who they are today compared to a past life so often referenced.

I noticed on social media last night and this morning all the raves and support President Obama received after his speeches yesterday to the “graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and to the high school graduates of 2020” (Wanda Fleming Notebook). I heard people say things like, “God I miss him” or “so down to earth” as he once again put words of possibility into the young hearts of America.

The students listened, and we do all continue to listen to his words. Certainly there will always be disagreement, and I respect that; however, if done in malice then all we do is break down what anyone tries to say no matter their capacity before our lives. I think with Obama we get the true nature of a man who knows how to work a crowd, but when given the opportunity does it with character and integrity. There isn’t a wow factor in his words as much as a hope and promise. He would like people to find a way, again, to smile and realize there is much to believe in ahead of us all, young and old.

To me, those are the components of a Statesman in our country, and what is important to realize is that this person or any persons who can reach such capacity are not going away. Their words still remain, it is up to us to listen or pass off. Last night I listened.

In my life I have watched many people in positions of power become Statesmen in their next lives as we speak to everyone’s newest chapter. When President Carter left office, he was quietly ridiculed by people that were the seeming nuts and bolts of governmental machinations. He went silent into the distance, and then became the gentle giant he is today, as one of our more powerful Statesmen in the country. One of his foundations, ‘Habitat for Humanity’ has a sublime history supporting our impoverished and homeless not only across the United States and America but the World. This all happened because of the passion of a man that believed in his country, in the fellowship of man. President Carter believed in doing what is right for society, not himself.

I believe I have seen this in nearly every President that has left office after having an either illustrious or embarrassing experience as the leader of our country. I have always believed myself to have moderate views on politics, most would look at me and shout liberal, very few would imagine conservative. Maybe it has to do with the clothes I wear, the length of my hair, my own insecurity with a philosophy, but the fact is I believe in people far sooner than I do any political affiliate. I feel for the human condition long before I attach myself to any religious orthodoxy. I think our ability to remain open to everything that happens around us is a key element to surviving not only this life-changing pandemic but everything we experience in our lives.

I watched as President Nixon became a criminal in the eyes of America, and then years later began to receive acknowledgement with his prowess for foreign diplomacy despite his alleged personal perils running the country. I will not believe he passed on in disgrace, more a Statesman. President Kennedy really didn’t get a chance. I reference him only because he was the first President I experienced as a toddler. I became increasingly aware with age.

I have watched both Bushes become recognized for not simply their philanthropy but their kindness toward what we find to be our world. I never thought I would say that about either, certainly not ‘W’ but now today, I do, because I listen to who they became and have become since leaving office. Perhaps they don’t stand before a podium nearly as often as some, but when they do, their voices are heard and they are respected by everyone. Will we be able to say that about every person that leaves the most visible and powerful position of office in America? For me, that reality is what caused Obama’s words to so resonate yesterday evening.

Even Ronald Reagan left an endearing legacy while his mind struggled to pass gently into the night. The thing about Reagan is he was the same man that entered the office of the Presidency that later left. He did not attempt to make himself something that he was not.

A person does not have to agree with politics to recognize the beauty in human nature. For two decades I lived in a neighborhood of mostly conservative republicans whom today I consider close friends well beyond our political views. We can even talk about politics together without upsetting each other, undermining one another, abusing our right and privilege to exist in and around society together. I thank my family for that attitude because from the moment I could speak, I learned how to defend myself and listen to others with true passion.

I think the values that have allowed us to carve out some niche of who we are today, do evolve from listening to those speakers. They are not just ‘holding the codes’ are capable of ‘pressing the button’ on our survival or demise. True speakers in my lifetime are the one who long after their visible duties have been retired, continue to embrace a world with words of logic, of consciousness of kindness.

Last night, I believe that was President Obama’s motive, and I am grateful. During this time of confusion, hardship, fear as doors begin their opening, there are a lot of posts reflecting what life will be like when we do re-enter society. Please do not imagine for a moment that people’s struggles today are temporary. It is a frightening prospect to know what this pandemic has done to so many lives already struggling long before the outbreak occurred.

Despite fear and the unknown, the strongest belief I wish to hear day in and day out is – Be Kind.

I believe that was Barack Obama’s motive yesterday, and he wakes with the same today.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2020

Sanity Left The Room

Seems we’ve whittled ourselves down,

there’s a bit of sadness in the air,

the pundits are introducing nameless figures,

afraid to give any more attention to hypocrisy.

~

I woke up today with a bit of a frown,

though I did always think Jeb! a dare,

He held to his principles always ahead of fixtures,

This man not a conservative republican simple heresy.

~

He was the man that represented our office,

his values steadfast, his demeanor grim,

yet a certain panache of integrity he always shows

I am saddened even though his direction I shant go.

~

Instead, we’re forced to hear words in orifice,

the sort we laughed at in a year of whim,

now the world in all its bigotry has begun a glow,

seems the monster wakes the dead this we truly know.

~

I’m torn to understand what is best for our country

Faced with a national crisis we hear candidates paltry.

When Obama Cries

I would ask you this, when your criticism mounts,

do you remember your own tears?

When President Obama shows real tears,

is there a moment when we wonder about ourselves,

when human nature responds with emotion,

we enjoy, we love, we relish the opportunity

to point out our weak society.

When the Newtown tragedy was discussed in your own home,

were there tears, do  you remember,

did you block that part out only because you couldn’t possibly

agree with the truth?

Do you remember the first time your mother told you it is ok,

to cry.

To cry in public,

to recognize we are human beings and sadness when on display

could be powerful beyond display.

Do you understand passion, I believe President Obama wants you to.

Think about your last cry, and honor the beauty of peace

of mind and body.

Think about what leadership means when emotion is honorable.

Thinking Out Loud … Again (Revised)

I’ve read and listened to a lot of opinion throughout the week centered around the Charleston tragedy. I have been trying to wrap my head around this new yet predictable nightmare in our society. I have read about the politicizing of real deaths at the hand of a racist. I’ve listened to the dialogue that suggests the different lens that applies to a White versus a Black assailant. I’ve heard the hate crime accusations, seen the picture comparing the arrest of a white or black person and the different techniques labeled with assessment of entitlement versus discrimination. I’m as disturbed by this as the next person. I am literally frozen with confusion over the tragedy in Charleston.

However, the most bothersome piece that aggravates me tonight is this. I have heard the notion that the President, our elected President of the United States – a position of such stature that I was raised to always publicly respect whether I agreed or disagreed with their views – be labeled a narcissist whose sole objective is to bring more spotlight to himself rather than offer condolence to the haunting pain the victims of the Charleston massacre are enduring. The man has stated that he has had to speak about this terroristic behavior in our own country more times than he cares to remember, yet, there are still people that want to crucify him for trying to be the spokesperson for change in the United States of America. He is the President, and speak on the tough issues is what he was elected to do. I’m afraid he cannot change the minds of those that refuse to listen for no other reason but to desecrate his term in office.

Despite the obvious, I still cannot fathom how our society can so easily pass the buck, blame other people, shed their focus on labeling and defaming the strong character of the POTUS, who is actively trying to address the issues that impact our Nation in the only manner he possibly can, by using the pulpit that he was asked to stand upon to represent the people when elected into office.

I’m not sure what it will take for people to understand the problems in our country are not the fault of the President of the United States. I’m not sure if people are able to fathom the true humanity that President Obama endures when he tries to speak to the needs of our country, and becomes simply the fodder for those that only want to diminish his position in office.

Let’s try for a moment to remember this turmoil is not about Barack Obama. This issue is not about a political agenda.

This turmoil is really about no one else but ourselves, our own inability to look in the mirror and recognize as individuals in this nation of suggested freedom, that we are responsible for the energy that creates or extinguishes the monsters that exist in and around us. Until we can truly face the music, and begin to listen and create the dialogue that offers resolution, collaboration, respect and forward thinking, we will always find an outlet like a President of color to hammer upon so we haven’t any need to look at ourselves. Please, look in the mirror.

We are a nation of entitlement. We need to get over ourselves and stop complaining and start loving one another unconditionally. Start moving forward.

There truly is a benefit to positive thinking. There is truly even a greater benefit to sharing a positive frame of mind in that collaboration. Let’s begin that dialogue as a nation. Until we can start a real conversation with one another, we will always find a way to cast blame and inevitably politicize our shortcomings.

Let’s not make our own insecurities and fear of communication feed a mission statement for defining who we are in our country. That certainly does not have to be who we are together in this struggle.

Think about where it is we all come from. Think about our roots before we use an easy out to shelter ourselves from being a part of the storm of hypocrisy we live and breathe every day in America. Instead, let’s begin to listen and recognize love. Peace.

Five Days, Five Photos – Day Four; On Diversity

( a continuance in a five day series inspired by Dancing Echoes )

Obama

Our president is Black,

I want to speak to that for a minute.

I remember the commentary,

the pundits, the wannabes,

Racism is over, the President is Black.

I laughed inside until the tears began.

I wondered how many years,

how many racial slurs,

when will our society finally recognize,

our diversity is reliant upon our

acceptance, awareness, ability to process,

our world is not going to remain the way it did,

in 1950 when you could pretend away change.

We can no longer avoid the reality of our lives …

Society is intense, social media will speak,

our people are together, all, without question, simply

human beings.

When will we ever figure that out?

Black President,

Ferguson controversy,

Baltimore atrocity,

daily renderings of diminished capacity.

Yes, I cannot call it anything else, beyond idiocy

on the part of our society.

So here’s my rant for the day,

I’m delighted we have the opportunity of

President Obama.

Let’s be realists and recognize the work ahead,

let’s try not to be skewed toward bandaids and kisses.

let’s look one another in the eye,

let’s smile,

together.

(tonight I would like to nominate ivonprefontaine to continue to five days, five stories plan)