Remember President Obama’s words, his plea, in his speech at the memorial service in Tucson:
“All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”
Why do I constantly find that I have an affinity for Barack Obama, during his campaign, his first two years in office and at the University of Tucson last night? The answer is simple: Barack Obama is a human being grounded in loving and competent parenthood. Over and above his significant talents as a scholar, orator and leader, he is first and foremost a father. And a devoted one at that.
President Obama is able, and willing, to put himself in another person’s shoes. That is called compassion. He knows the immense hard work that goes into raising children. He knows the importance of inculcating values into one’s offspring. He understands the significance of setting a good example. He strictly adheres to his expectations of good behavior and standards so that his daughters will be able to imprint from his life. Thus, his children will also incorporate into their own lives admirable, charitable and productive practices.
Once that exchange begins, and it is a life-long process, we have secured the concern for the greater good for the next generation. The too-short life of Christina Taylor Green should be a reminder to all of us that we need to keep our children safe: safe from violence, safe from environmental pollution, safe in their schools and safe to grow up. In this way, our children will actually have expectations and unlike Christina, will have the opportunity to exercise them.
As a parent, one of my worst fears is to not live up to the expectations of my children. I live my life on my own terms, aiming to fulfill my own values. I really don’t care about the opinions of others —– except that of my kids. As their teacher for three decades, how could I not care about what they think of me? Witnessing their commendable moral development, I do need their approval to validate that I am on the right path. This is called “coming full circle.”
This was the crux of President Obama’s speech last night: do your duty as a parent, as a member of the human race, and the goodness will be mirrored back to you in geometric multiples. The forces of divisiveness are rendered moot by the aspirations of those who truly set the better example. Do you think Sarah Palin, “hockey mom” and “Mama Grizzly” extraordinaire, gave one iota of thought to the hole left by Christina’s passing? Was Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” another instance of her grab for public attention, regardless of her lack of understanding of the words she delivered? Was the set design behind her as presidential as she thought it was? Why is this woman so devoted to showmanship instead of substance?
Was John Boehner’s decline of the President’s invitation to join him on Air Force One and attend the Tucson memorial service a partisan snub? Only hours before that service, Majority Leader Boehner was once again in tears on the floor of his august chamber condemning the actions in Arizona. Why then, as head of “the people’s house”, did he not attend that service in Tucson last night? One of his own, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was shot down. Could he not muster the appropriate respect for one of his own colleagues? Could he not place professional and personal responsibility above political partisanship? Apparently, tears are easier for him than homage. By the way, he was at a fund-raiser in D.C. last night.
So you want to talk about expectations? Palin’s and Boehner’s words and actions leave us bereft as to their true meaning. Perhaps, as the Financial Times did in today’s paper, we should relegate the Palins of this world to the second section, page 4. No mention in today’s edition was made of Boehner.
If I were Palin or Boehner, I would be pretty embarrassed to face my children. I thank my lucky stars that I am neither of them. I also thank those same lucky stars that we have a President who cares about his children and thus, the nation’s children. Barack Obama can comfortably go home at night and his children will welcome him with open arms.
There is no higher principle for which to strive: acting intelligently, humanely and compassionately so that one’s children can emulate what they see and then mature with expectations of making our world a better place. This is not only important for the individual family members, but also for society as a whole. In fact, it is imperative for the continuation of humankind.
President Obama got it right last night. The United States of America needs to live up to its children’s’ expectations. It is the least we can do after we have brought them into this world.