Sitting in the comfort of our own living room, we spent Thursday evening January 13, 2011 with President Obama. We listened, watched and felt as he applied healing words to individual, family, state and national wounds following the tragic events that killed six Americans and critically injured congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
He Talked the Talk
Then this leader, this transformational leader, our president, reached for more. He called us to recognize and act upon our highest moral aspirations. He touched a place in each of us that yearns for and is capable of being more than we are right now. He held this vision so that we might see and live up to it. He called out to our moral imagination our instinct for empathy. And he demonstrated his own.
He Walked the Talk
He stood above the fray. He refrained from criticizing and laying blame. Then this leader, our president, reached for more. He removed the seal of blame from those who often oppose and attack him. Then he expanded his reach yet again. With “sharpened instincts for empathy” and “expanded moral imagination” he simultaneously held our disappointment, our grief, and our hopes. He showed us a different way. If we choose to follow we will each be a better version of ourselves and collectively we will be a greater nation.
I learned a lot Thursday night. I am paying more attention and acting with greater diligence to live up to President Obama’s words and actions. He did something that helped expand my moral aspirations. He demonstrated a vision I can and want to strive for.
He Called for An Evolution
Like other world leaders before him, President Obama is not making perfect decisions in his every day role as president. He is setting a direction, creating policies and initializing programs. Over time we will learn to do things better and make improvements. We may even set a new direction. Things will change. But if we act on what he called us to be and to do in his speech Thursday night, we will take a great step forward in our individual and collective evolution. We will not choose to go back. All our decisions going forward will be better.
With Open Eyes
The mark of inspiration continues to grow long after words are spoken and deeds are done. The day after the President’s speech I found myself amidst the echo of his words. I thought about how to stay true to important values even when taunted and tempted to do otherwise – to retaliate, to strike out with words or actions.
I also wondered of all the moments Gabby Giffords could have opened her eyes, why it happened in the hours just before the president’s speech. What forces in the universe were at play? Did her eyes open so that we might open ours as well; that we might see what has been sitting at the edges of our consciousness?