Our little caravan to Peoria yesterday was an active search for hope in a divisive world. Our driver John is newly retired. I tried to imagine being his fellow soldier in the helicopter he piloted above Viet Nam. His girlfriend, Bonnie, specializes in educating those incorrigibles demoted to alternative schooling. I shared the back seat with Betty who celebrates her independence daily. She survived a hip fracture with bone pinning last Christmas and manuevers public places by virtue of cane and determination. I brought my own gray-haired American Healthcare background to listen in.
There’s no mistaking Michelle Obama for someone else. When she enters a room, “statuesque” comes to mind. I’m still unable to adequately describe her. As I recall her powerful message taken home by a packed ballroom audience, I’m lifted by Michelle’s time-changing presence. Each of us came away knowing we’re connected to the “real thing.”
One becomes immersed in cross-cultural unity at any Obama event. Women for Obama coordinated a whirlwind schedule for Michelle. Breakfast in Champaign, lunch in Peoria and dinner in Rockford allowed multi-tasking Michelle to be home in time for tucking Sasha and Malia in bed.
Michelle adeptly wove the story of her South-side Chicago life then to now in describing how two extraordinary people (IMO) met on the job and meshed to produce what we know today. Michelle has clearly earned her own right to share a table with any elite Politico. While possessing remarkable poise and beauty, attaching the title of Princess to this learned woman would be an undeserved smack down. Like many Americans, I came to the event unaccustomed to seeing high-level female leadership (of any heritage) in action.
It would be another disservice to mangle Michelle’s inspiring message here. I chose to be an event host, encouraging others to contribute to the Obama for America campaign. My reward was to witness the most powerful woman speaker I’ve ever seen – in my life – ever.
When Michelle described her own father, I thought of Martin Luther King, Jr., a great father belonging to The Ages. He and I would’ve shared wows of joy. Michelle talked of the criticisms attempting to be stuck to Barack. As to the “Is he READY?” and the “Is this country READY…?” Michelle replied, “The best question to ask of them is ARE YOU ready?”
I am – are you?
In case you’re saying to yourself, “I can’t really afford to…” let me tell you, I can’t either. Here’s how I’ve been doing it: I almost spent money on clothing for a perceived fancy meal. I donated that money to their campaign. I would’ve used a half tank of gas to drive there. I coordinated a car pool for the day. Rather than just me having this experience, four of us can now recount it to friends. After all, it’s our job to help people get ready to change.
As we exited, Betty was beaming as she said, “I can’t wait to tell the girls at Bridge Club about THIS!” Those “girls” are her elderly Republican neighbors.
“We’re tired of fear, we’re tired of division. We want something new. We want to turn the page. The world as it is is not the world as it has to be .”
~ Barack Obama
Hope-Action-Change is the Obama family story. Michelle and Barack are not asking us to do anything they’re not already doing themselves. I believe their combined messages are our “feet on the ground” keys to success. Don’t be missing history, hoping to watch it on TV – make a way to be there!