Today was a sad day in my opinion. It was the day Barack Obama made his final speech as the President of the United States. Without commenting too much on what the future holds or what it might look like under the incoming administration, I can’t help but feel that the world is going to be down one wonderful leader as of today.
Barack to me has always embodied so many things that I respect in a leader and a man. Intelligent, well presented, well rounded, active, funny, self-depreciating but confident, a family man, kind and understanding, a great mixture of real world experience and brains. The divides that run through the United States run deep, but there is no doubt in my mind that Barack is one of the rare, special kinds of leaders. It is a shame that in the field of ‘world leading’ (as in leading the world), we don’t have dozens of heads of state to look up to, but apparently it is difficult to be the person you want to be the whole way to the top without pandering to party lines, popularity contests and special interests.
Facing a hostile congress for 8 years, watching Barack stay strong on his message and do everything in his power to improve the equality of opportunity for Americans was inspiring, and I certainly hope that one day I will have the opportunity to tell him so to his face.
I can’t speak to how hard that must have been, being the most powerful man in the world but being hamstrung at every turn by people who seem to defy science and logic. Trying to improve the lives of others but being slammed by people with overt special external interests, and conflicting ideologies of what it means to help people. I have often wondered aloud what it must have been like, getting into bed at night with Michelle, and talking about what crazy counter-argument was brought into congress during the day to knock down a bill.
Which brings me to one of the real standouts about the life of Barack Obama.
The way he looks at Michelle.
Michelle Obama, in her own right, is an amazing woman. Smart, composed, stately, friendly with an air of accessibility and no airs of superiority about her at all. Clearly a beautiful woman Barack has joked that she appears to have not aged a day in the last two terms, while his hair has changed from the full black hair of a young president to the salt and pepper bristle of the older statesman.
For 8 years, the world has watched the most powerful man in the world, and his unwavering loving gaze toward his wife.
I’m not insane, I am sure that they have disagreements and all the fun things that go along with relationships of any kind. I do, however, know one thing. That if you are looking at someone the way Barack looks at Michelle, and Michelle looks at Barack, you need to understand that you are in the middle of something very special.
I can’t think of too many more stressful situations than all the lifestyle demands that are put on the President and First Lady, and yet to handle themselves so well together is inspiring.
Now in this case, I am not even going to pretend to know how this happens! I don’t know what the steps to this kind of relationship are, I don’t know what goes into keeping a love like that so visible… I mean, it is possible that they were hamming it up for the cameras, but really, I don’t believe that to be the case.
To see a couple who are so gracious, generous in their support for one another and so adoring of each other is a wonderful thing to see anywhere. Let alone the President of the United States and the First Lady.
Barack has shown that it is possible to remain human and full of heart while juggling the most stressful and demanding job on the planet, which surely can give hope to all of us who are ‘too busy’ to find someone like that in their own lives. Rather than take anything away, the two of them are greater than the sum of their parts, and I think that is something that remains inspiring long after the dust settles on his tenure.
As much as Barack has inspired me as man, Michelle has inspired so many women to see that with the right person, supporting your partners goals is not a passive activity that requires you to give up your own potential. By allowing each other to become the best versions of themselves, the Obamas have been the ultimate celebrity couple, for all the reasons that we usually ignore.
So cheers to Barack, cheers to Michelle, and cheers to one of the good guys getting ahead. Here’s to the good examples, the ones who stick to their guns, the men big enough to accept the love and give it back, the women amazing enough to keep kicking ass and getting amongst it even when their husbands are the President. Here is to the strong women, the family men, the good mothers, fathers, husbands and wives. Because if the Obamas can do it, surely there is some hope for the rest of us!
Really this blog was just to say that if I am ever fortunate enough to be looking at someone like that, someone let me know that I’m on a winner. I don’t know how that comes to pass, but I feel like we spend too much time pouring over divorces and celebrity disasters and not enough time celebrating those who do it for each other. Because it’s just bloody nice.
-Josh Reid Jones
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports