What the Obamas meant for me, as a person
I just read the US President's farewell speech transcript (will watch it during lunch), and I reflect on the last eight years, where I see and compare to what I saw both in the American society and my own. This is what I take away not only from him, but his family, both as a journalist, an aspiring family man and, simply, a human being.
- •Never lose your optimismDuring his last conversation with The New Yorker's David Remnick, Obama spoke about his firm conviction that things will always, eventually, resolve themselves. That is one of my principles that has been constantly challenged in the last 17 years of Venezuelan government. It was inspiring to see a man I truly admire have a similar train of thought.
- •Remember the ones "below" youOne day you're on top. Another, you will fall. How long between those two events depends on how well you treat those that stay behind.
- •Get involvedIf there's one thing I lament about my society, it's that were always expecting someone else to solve the problem. We never want to do the work ourselves. And we've gotten so good st being what we call "bleacher umpires": those who see the mistakes after they happen and boast about how different they would have made it. And never do. The Obamas have always inspired people to be the change they want to be. It's one of the reasons I took a job in a political party.
- •Treat your wife as an equal (knowing she very well could be your superior)The public image of the Obamas is what I truly call "relationship goals". Michelle is every bit the human being, the public figure, the activist, the role model, that Barry has been. (Perhaps even more, considering how important it is for young black women to see how much they can achieve.) Be with someone that walks by your side, encouraging you to pick up the pace when you feel you're falling behind. That is both your wings and your anchor when you need it.
- •Be a good parent, and your kids will have a better chanceI loved knowing that Malia Obama got a job. Yes, it was news because she's one of the President's daughters. But from everything I read, she was also following an example. I'm getting ready to become a step dad (my gf has a seven year old girl that calls me Bird Daddy --story for another day) and I intend to follow the First Family's example in more than one way. Maybe SHE'LL be President one day!
- •Take your position seriously. But not yourself.I was consistently amazed how funny Barack Obama could be. Self deprecating, quick witted. How did he not crack up with Luther during the 2015 Correspondents Dinner? And having someone like Joe Biden sure didn't hurt. That's something else I learned: find a fellow mischiever. Thanks to this, I never saw Obama as this unapproachable, distant guy. I saw him as a dude that, had he not achieved the highest office, I could talk to him on the street no problem. PR success? I'm sure of it. Phoney? Nah.
- •Don't be afraid to show your feelingsThe Obamas didn't wear their heart on their sleeve, they carried it in their hand. They never missed an opportunity to show they felt emotion. That they were human. Politicians here are mostly made of robots, no matter which side they're on. To show emotions is not a sign of weakness; on the contrary, it's a sign that you're quite confident in your own strength.
- •In the end: try to be a good person.Not because it's part of your job. Not because you're the most powerful man in the world and it has huge responsibilities. Not because you're supposed to. But because whatever the position you're in, be it President or street sweeper, journalist or teacher, in the end, if you try to do good, people will remember your mistakes, but won't judge you by them. They'll judge you by how you made them feel. "Yes, we did", indeed, Mr. President.