A Nation in Shock: Paying Tribute to Our Consoler-in-Grief

The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.

The internet and social media have been flooded with analysis and open letters since the results of last Tuesday’s election were announced. Tears, protests, and calls for understanding sought solidarity in the shock and surprise that is still sinking into the collective conscience of the country.

The highest and crack filled glass ceiling was not shattered in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Instead, the hopes and dreams of over half this country for a more inclusive and hopeful future were smashed into pieces like that ceiling was supposed to have been broken through for a world anew.

Sarah Jones in a heartfelt and powerful editorial named the trauma women across the country are feeling. She has also told what we can expect in the future administration. Adalia Woodberry shows us who is really celebrating and calls us out of our fears and desires to flee into collective action defending our democracy.

Instead of repeating what has already been said by so many others and in response to fears of President Barack Obama’s legacy being swiftly undone, I offer a tribute to his leadership and legacy that cannot be stripped away. A reminder of his greatness in times of grief as we face it once again. He has promised to lead us now, no less, and he will continue to give nothing short of his wholehearted very best.

After more tragedies than one president should have to bear, President Barack Obama faithfully and with an unparalleled depth of empathic compassion addressed a shocked and grieving nation with words of consolation and hope. Tirelessly, our nation’s Consoler-in-Greif comforted the grieving and hugged the nation with speeches that reminded us of who we are as Americans and called us to our better selves. He as perhaps only our nation’s first black president could do, even lead a grieving country in an inspiring and soulful singing of “Amazing Grace.”

In an era of increased gun violence and the lack of courage among Republicans in Congress to address it beyond a routine call for thoughts and prayers, President Barack Obama has been at the forefront calling for common sense reforms that the majority of people including NRA members support. President Obama continues to be uniquely gifted to sit with the grieving in their trauma and bring their individual stories to the collective conscience of the country. In speeches to the nation and sermons to the suffering, he skillfully weaves stories together with wisdom and truth calling each of us to work together to achieve a more perfect union.

He has walked the halls of a grade school following a massacre of children. No one should ever have to see this. He has eulogized the deaths of citizens across the country. He has seen horror and offered hope. This is one legacy of our 44th President that cannot be undone. No vote or policy change can take away what he has done for grieving families, communities, and this entire country. In this, he has been more than our nation’s president. He has been a compassionate healer, giving of himself in humility and service from the depths of his humanity and commitment to the common values we cherish as citizens of this country.

President Barack Obama, we the people of this country owe you a debt of gratitude for your gentle strength in reaching out to those suffering incalculable loss in the aftermath of tragedies from coast to coast. We give our deep appreciation for your honest and hope-filled addresses that brought comfort and inspiration to continue to work for change. We will miss you and never forget the lives you have touched with compassion and love.

Yet, Mr. President, your tenure is not yet complete. And we trust you to lead us now in and through our shock and our grief, to encourage us again and lift us from sorrow into a more hopeful tomorrow.

The high and cracked-filled glass ceiling may not have been shattered this year, but we must not fear, for we are still stronger together. The nation will hear us ‘roar’ for justice and for peace as our “Fight Song” begins once again. This village of people is ready to join hand-in-hand and fight for the hopes and dreams of all the people throughout this great land.