By NICOLE BURROWS
Michelle Obama gave what I believe was meant to be her last official interview before she and her husband and family leave the White House to Oprah Winfrey in recent weeks.
Mrs Obama talked to Oprah about what the past eight years have been like for her and what it meant to her and to America when her husband came to office, campaigning on the theme of a hopeful future.
I am not a Democrat or a Republican, as I am neither FNM nor PLP. I am tired of picking sides. All I’d like to see is people who are capable of doing a good job in leadership do that good job, as I think America’s most recent president has done.
Whatever your political affiliation, I think you would be hard-pressed to say that the United States of America has ever had a better leader than Barack Obama. To my 40-plus-year-old eyes, there has never been a more stately, intellectually and emotionally intelligent world leader than Obama. I believe if Donald Trump could be completely honest, he would say that, in Obama’s presence, he has felt some degree of inferiority, and that’s not because Obama is intimidating or discriminating, as he is too humble and decent a character to ever look down upon a lesser person, in spite of her/his deficiencies. If Trump could ever admit truth, he would agree it was more than a humbling experience for him to share such an important conversation with America’s outgoing and most well-rounded president to date.
I’m not comparing metrics of accomplishments with respect to the economy, the environment, healthcare, education or even race relations ... none of that. I’m simply referring to the completeness of the package that is Barack Obama. And when I consider what they’re losing as compared to what they’re getting, I feel sad for America; I imagine that a leader like Obama will be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for them. And I’m sure there are many hateful people out there in and beyond the US who, for one hateful reason or another, cannot wait to see the back of him. But I wonder if they could ever understand what they had.
No political agenda is perfect. No president is always successful. It’s hard to be the best to all people and purposes. That’s an objective most people can never meet. And it makes me wonder how Obama feels about the work he has done or tried to do. The examples he has provided or attempted to provide all these years. I wonder if he’s sad to leave and what he imagines will happen after he does. I wonder if he feels any of that hope on which he based his presidential campaign. I, for one, can’t say I do. Hoping for humanity can often seem like one of the most useless things in life.
In her interview, Michelle Obama asked Oprah, “Without hope, what is there?” And that’s a difficult question, because there really isn’t an answer and it raises other questions about the reasons anyone ever does anything in life. What are we hoping for? Americans ... Bahamians ... what are we all hoping for? What can be hoped for? What is realistically within our grasp?
We have leaders and potential leaders between our two countries who cannot understand the condition of hopelessness the average citizen feels. Donald Trump is up to bat, Perry Christie we wish would put the bat down ... how can either one of these men inspire hope in their people? Trump has preached hate to win his place on the throne and Christie is in denial half the time and in mental absentia the other half. Neither has answers that can fix things for their people over the long term.
Where is the hope for America? Where is the hope for The Bahamas?
I’m not talking about a slogan, but that feeling that makes people eager to wake up every day and put their shoulders to the wheel, knowing that whatever they do diligently and for good will prosper them in ways that mean so much more than mere financial success. In our modern existence, monetary reward is a big part of gratification and hopefulness, because it dictates almost everything you’re able to achieve. And when you can’t achieve what you need to achieve, there is a negative personal impact that brings a hopelessness from which some people can never recover.
It pains me to see the same type of news headlines this new year as we saw in all of last year. I physically removed myself from the challenges of lost hope that anyone without money or connections would experience living in The Bahamas. So many miles from the place I call my first home, yet still I feel a hopelessness exists there that Bahamians cannot rise above.
I’ve been very fortunate on my journey in the past year - lots of generosity from the most unexpected places and people - and it’s all helped me to keep my dreams and goals within view and closer within reach. But what about back at home? How can I share hope in what I can plainly see from this far away is still the same as I left it? Nothing to look forward to except maybe the tenacity and resourcefulness of Bahamians to keep going. And maybe that’s the answer to hopelessness. There isn’t much at all to feel hopeful about or to look forward to with hope and anticipation, but as long as you remain resourceful you can get yourself closer to the place you want to be no matter what you’re aiming to achieve.
So maybe, in 2017, we should focus on preserving and maintaining what we do have, becoming more resourceful in more ways and repurposing things and ideas we were ready to toss out because we lost all hope. If we stick to what keeps us using the little we have to get what we want, we can bring our own hope and not wait for anyone else to inspire us or fill us with their hope, be it genuine or otherwise.
As President, Obama was authentic, a true motivator and inspiration. Trump is not and cannot be any of these things. Christie gives a great speech, but no one believes him because he has prevailed too long over hopelessness. Instead of waiting for any of these men or anyone else to create something to believe in, could we believe in ourselves more? Could we each believe in one other person? No one ever understands your goals and dreams the way you do - believe me, I know. But they don’t have to. Maybe it would do us good to accept that as fact, without allowing it to influence our personal motivation to move in whatever direction we choose. People will always have opinions, suggestions, advice, but they can’t hope on your behalf for what you should hope for on your own behalf.
When Obama leaves office, America will inherit false hope ... the kind of false hope that stems from two world leaders who believe in playing with nuclear armaments ... the hope that presents as hope but is really a severe and pervasive insecurity covered by distractions from what is genuinely hopeful and could actually make humanity better.
When Christie leaves office - or gets pushed out because he refuses to walk away - Bahamians could inherit false hope from a group of people who have no real plans but keep promising them later, or they could have a flicker of hope generated by a handful of other Bahamians who still are willing to share what little hope they have to teach others how to hope for themselves.
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