A tear glimmered in his eye as President Obama looked across the audience to an equally misty-eyed First Lady. This was the time: the final moment of address to the United States public he had served for eight years as Commander-in-Chief. Given the many times Obama had emphasized the importance of family and unity in his speeches and dialogue, it was not surprising that he so emotionally showered praise on his wife Michelle, the woman he said had “made the country proud.” In fact, Obama had only uttered her name when the Chicago crowd proceeded to give her a standing ovation. It was the passion present in that room that caused me to shed a tear as well: a human reaction to a tender moment of humanity. So eloquently he addressed the nation that evening, not only on politics but also on compassion and family responsibility. He set an example to the millions of men watching that they too should realize and celebrate the amazing value that women represent in society, not as objects but instead as thinkers and doers who have the ability and will to change society for the better.
When Presidents leave office, we often think about the legacy they leave and attempt to rate them as “good” or “bad.” Of course, no issue is so shallow that either of those tags should easily apply to most situations. While potentially offering the security that occurs with absolute values, that binary rarely fulfills a valid desire to find truth in any context. We might ask “What is bad?” or “What is good?” and come to widely different conclusions that are based on our own views. So while the nature of Obama’s political decisions is often divisive, I think his moral decisions are not. We need to spend more time with our friends and families and less time fighting over our differences. We need to hold each other in higher esteem and acknowledge that the world would be a much better place if every person felt safe enough to express their views, no matter how divergent. I think Obama’s contribution to these issues will have a much greater impact on his legacy than any policy or political agenda will.
The descriptively titled “Farewell Address” was certainly one of the most memorable speeches that Obama has made. I would like to think that the “Farewell” portion was not only a colloquialism but additionally a charge to the American people to “fare well.” Perhaps that tender message to the First Lady was not only a sentimental expression of love but also a charge to America to fare well by acting with compassion and decency toward all people. So I say in return, “Farewell, Mr. President.”