We are just two days from the moment President Barack Obama will turn over the keys to Donald Trump. Each heavy minute of the countdown feels like the slow, painful countdown to doom. Tick tock, a counting clock.
“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Dr Martin Luther King, Jr said on the 28th of August in 1963 during his famous “I have a dream speech”.
To judge President Obama on the content of his character is to find him an exceptional human and leader. It’s a true shame so many missed out on this pleasure due to their own shortcomings.
President Obama has been a president who walked the talk when it came to integrity, honor, civility, love of family, and plain decency. Vice President Joe Biden gave us an insider’s view to the President’s character in his acceptance speech of the surprise Presidential Medal of Freedom.
So it is that we grieve the loss of this great man as our President, and many of us struggle to accept the incoming president-elect, even without the legitimate questions about his winning of the 2016 election and the Russian hackings that assisted him.
Even without the cloud of Putin, Donald Trump is a low blow to a people used to President Obama’s high-minded civility.
The pu$$y-grabbing, impulse-impaired, loose canon of petty hate and rage that is Donald Trump feels unbearable.
But this is happening, and it is actually not unbearable. It might end up causing world problems that become unbearable, but for now, it is not unbearable. It can’t be unbearable.
And the reason it can’t be unbearable is because if Martin Luther King, Jr and Representative John Lewis and so many others can put their lives on the line for freedom and for equality, we can each do much less.
All that is asked of us is that we speak out loudly, that we are heard objecting, that we are seen objecting, that we are non-violent but demanding of change, that we do not let our neighbor be targeted out of cowardice, that we hold hands figuratively with those who also value civil rights, democracy, freedom, and morality.
This is a moral fight. No matter how it’s couched, the people must realize that our leaders are held to higher standards. This isn’t a prissy morality about with whom Trump slept or whether he sexted someone. This is a deep, consistent and real morality that we recognize no matter our spiritual faith or lack thereof. It is a calling to treat others as equals, to not be a bully, to be a responsible grown up, to cherish our freedom and work hard to ensure it continues to expand to cover our brothers and sisters.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” MLK also said this.
It seems we are covered in Trump darkness, and yet throughout history people have been called on to insist on progress. It might feel like Donald Trump is already erasing Obama’s legacy, but he can’t do that.
Barack Obama has been a great influence on our culture, our children, our progress — but ultimately the people made that happen. He inspired it, but now we are to carry on in his tracks, not sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to inspire us.
Donald Trump will never be known as the great man Barack Obama is, nor will he erase Obama’s legacies.
Trump will try, because he can’t stand that Obama is beloved by a majority of the people while he is loathed. But small thinkers do not go down in history as winners.
Trump will destroy many things, but he won’t destroy the memory of a great president or the wake of hope Obama left behind him.
We are already seeing that in the people rising up to save Obamacare.
Let these people’s collective voice inspire you to speak out, to take an action today that will make a difference no matter how small. Each step we take forward is just more work for them to try to dismantle.
These are dark days, but we have been so fortunate with President Obama. We had one of the best Presidents in modern day history. Now we pay the whitelash piper, but we will still move forward. All we need to do is read one of John Lewis’ books or listen to MLK speaking to know “Yes we can, and yes we will.”
That’s what President Obama gave us, a generation who believes in hope and change because they saw it happen. Hope is the biggest weapon against fascism and dictatorships. Use it well.
For this and so much more, including the others who made this administration such an uplifting joy, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden, I say, “Thanks, Obama.”
We won’t forget.