A FAREWELL LETTER TO THE OBAMAS
Dear President and Mrs. Obama,
For the past eight years we in this country have watched you inhabit the enormous roles of President and First Lady, giving your positions the respect and humility that such an honor deserves. Elegance can seem like a mild word, until it is snatched away and crudeness, arrogance and immaturity move in to replace it. Then elegance takes on a larger meaning, spilling over into dignity, empathy, respect. Elegance is a state of being that everyone should aspire to, but few possess.
In the face of unbridled racism, which included a concerted effort to de-legitimize you, President Obama, by claiming that you were not born in America, you never descended into pettiness or counter-attacks. As the First Lady would later say, When they went low, you went high. Through the tragedies of mass shootings, you rose to the task of comforting us while allowing us to see the raw emotions of anger and frustration that a civilized country could be awash in guns and unwilling to do anything about it.
It would never have occurred to either of you that mocking or belittling other human beings is acceptable behavior and when a man who wanted to occupy the office you held was heard making a crude and obscene comment about women, you both again rose higher while sharing how deeply shattering such behavior was to you, not only as President and First Lady, but as parents. Elegance is a balancing act between honesty and restraint. between dignity and the hot blood of pure emotion.
You understood the balm of humor and the truth of tears. You were there to encourage us, to inspire us, and to mourn with us. Many of us wonder what is going to happen to America now, when elegance will be replaced by petulance and pettiness. How can America be respected when the man elected to lead America shows only disrespect for its citizens, its press, and the freedoms that have made this country unique?
Hopefully we learned from your example and we can, collectively, decide that dignity, empathy, and respect cannot be banished by one man, or one administration. You were elegant teachers, it’s now our turn to be diligent students. It is not a political statement, but an achingly human one to say that we will miss you.