Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Your undivided attention, please...

January 20, 2009 was the most historic of all inaugurations, when Barack Obama officially became our President. Listening to Dr. Martin Luther King's "Dream" speech the day before, on MLK Day, I was struck by one particular line that made so clear the significance and importance of both days; their juxtaposition next to each other was poignant and beautiful. As King is warming up to his most famous lines of that speech, he asserts, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." Hearing those words and with the inauguration imminent, one more part of Dr. King's dream was actualized. The strength and power of that moment - connecting that hot summer day in 1963 to that cold winter day in 2009 - made my eyes well with tears and my skin cover in goosebumps.

[I am compelled to add, however, that I am still waiting for my personal dream to be actualized, when "we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are created equal" - and I have a few women in mind who might just make my dream come true.]

Any high school senior in government class can tell you the many different hats a president wears during his time in office. In my lifetime, Presidents Carter, Reagan, Daddy Bush, Clinton, and W. Bush have presided over our government, yet not a single one of those men was able to wear a hat that, while not required for the job, is certainly valued and admired: serving as a role model to young American families. Barack and Michelle Obama are raising children who appear to be respectful, proud, intelligent, assertive, fun, and who have the potential to be citizens who make enormous contributions to the world around them. As I watched footage on the television of the Obamas with their daughters, read magazine articles featuring the family, and flipped through countless campaign, election day, and inauguration photographs, I was struck by the single repeated image, that of President Obama leaning in to his daughter, giving her his undivided attention even amidst the chaos and importance of the world around him. If the President of the United States has the time and the wisdom of granting his children his undivided, full attention, might each of us find a little bit more undivided time with our own children as well?

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