Sunday, June 15, 2014

Preserving the soul

There have been those over the years who have suggested that reveling in photos like the one above is simply succumbing to propaganda and/or engaging in hagiography. Of course I disagree.

In particular, this photo of the first African American President and First Lady finding such joy in meeting a young Native American girl speaks volumes as a symbol of our hope for healing from a bloody and painful history.

But the fact is, whenever I see our President's genuine delight in interactions with children, I think of something Alice Walker wrote shortly after he was elected. 
I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life...From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone...

Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.
That kind of commentary is mostly out of bounds for the "very serious" people. But I believe that it is moments like the one in this picture that help a leader maintain their sanity in what can probably at times feel like an insane world. That, my friends, is a BFD!!!


  1. When he looks into the eyes of children, he sees their souls. They know it and connect.

    No propaganda shop in the world could create that kind of magic.

    1. PBO's eye-to-eye &/ soul connection with children, particularly babies and toddlers always touches me really deep - the intensity on the children's faces, the obvious communication, the relaxation and total acceptance by the little ones....just awesome! It's actually why I have so many 'favourite pics' from the Obamas with kids genre. ;-)

  2. Well said, Ms. Smartypants. Thank you!

  3. Hi SP
    When I heard Alice Walker make this profound statement, it was just after PBO returned from Europe and meetings with Gordon Brown et al. He was exhausted. I still pray that he is at least doing some of it with MO's help.