Recently, I have felt an acute sense of loss. The loss of a presidency and the loss of a dignified era which I’d hoped would stretch to the future. This was by no means a perfect time. We are the same bumpy species in the same turbulent historical sway we think of as progress. But despite the setbacks, the bumps, and the bruises in all their infinite colors, what shined was the aim to be decent, the standard of ethics, the hope of coming together. Without this “ideal”, will the moral compass now point in the right direction?
I thank Mr. Obama for being a president “of the hands” who rolled up his sleeves to carry us forth from the depths of recession to a place where health care is a right for all. I thank Mr. Obama for being a president “of the mind” who considered his actions thoroughly from a grounding in history, culture, political savvy and life. I thank Mr. Obama for being a president “of the heart” who created a legacy of grace and of spirit. Whose compassion served as a role model for all.
Barack Obama is a modern Renaissance man. If the “noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding” (Leonardo da Vinci), Obama delved deeply into subjects as far reaching as science, sports and the arts.
We will miss this president who created 22 new national parks, who wrote on clean energy for the journal Science, who ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, and who inspired the next generation by hosting the first White House Science Fair.
We will miss the president who loved shooting hoops, who championed women in sports, because “playing like a girl means you’re a badass,” and who praised athletics as a way to bring people together. Anyone else have the hutzpah to help Steph Curry improve his jump shot?
For those who are fans of the arts, we will miss this president who, when in Paris, toured the Pompidou. Whose Spotify playlists were hip. And whose grasp of the nuances of the human condition were shaped by Shakespeare. I liked reading the NYT article by Wesley Morris titled “Obama Understood the Power of Art. And He Wanted You to Get It, Too” (Jan 18th, NYT).
“Mr Obama has always seemed to understand the importance of culture as mirror, window, escape hatch and haven… Culturally speaking, he didn’t use his office to lift up, enlighten and entertain so much as to share it… He wrote that he loved Ray Charles’ version of ‘America the Beautiful’ because ‘it captures the fullness of the American experience, the view from the bottom as well as the top, the good and the bad, and the possibility of synthesis, reconciliation, transcendence.” Maybe this summarizes his view of our country and what will remain his gift to us (however flawed).
Farewell Obama, I hope we have not seen the last of you and Michelle.