Obama a ray of light in deeply divided nation
With much of the world watching, including Bermuda, US President Barack Obama, in his final address to America before leaving office, poured his heart and soul into expressing the values he believes must be protected so those who value love, peace and freedom can have faith in what democracy is supposed to provide: the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of this planet.
Many weeks of huge questions over America’s future followed a presidential campaign that revealed a deeply divided nation and revelations — still being investigated — that Russia managed to interfere with the election through cybertechnology in order to benefit the candidate of its choice.
The mere fact that US intelligence, at the highest level, has openly stated that evidence exists that Russia was involved in such a scheme has also troubled countries around the globe; that democracy itself could be in grave danger when the process of free elections is tampered with. Russia has denied the allegations.
In a matter of days there will be a new administration under Donald Trump, whom according to reports, even out of Russia, President Vladimir Putin favoured over Hillary Clinton.
Obama took to the podium in Chicago amid thunderous applause to deliver his farewell address as Commander in Chief. It was without a doubt a poignant moment in America’s history in the struggle to ensure that every American, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs, should be entitled to rights and freedoms that their constitution provides for.
Fully aware of the mood of America, following an election that highlighted a trail of angry and disappointed people from all walks of life, he chose to plant new seeds of courage by reminding Americans that they have the power to bring about change by becoming a part of it.
There was no hint of accepting defeat as this was a time for efforts to build a stronger and just nation.
Obama cautioned that waiting for others to do things was not the way to go. He even stressed that each person has a right to grab a clipboard and run for office if they are not satisfied with those elected to lead.
President Obama did not choose the night to simply relish his administration’s accomplishments, although he did say America was in a better state than when he took office.
He made it clear that support from his wife Michelle and his family was a key ingredient in staying strong throughout many troubling moments. There were many tears flowing as he cited Vice-president Joe Biden as a new brother in his life.
Many commentators felt it was one of the most moving and emotional speeches ever delivered by an outgoing president.
He also spoke of efforts to make the transition of power to the Trump administration as smooth as possible. America has faced many challenges but President Obama expressed optimism that the people who truly believe in a greater America will step up to ensure that the future of the nation is in good hands.
One commentator summed it up this way: Obama reminded the nation that decency and respect for one another and the protection of sound values will help keep democracy alive. We can only hope the new administration will move also in that direction.
The legacy of Obama will not rest simply on the fact that he was the first black president, but that he sought to make things better as an American citizen.
Other countries, including Bermuda, can learn much from the importance of staying positive with decency and respect as vital qualities in solving problems together.
No society is perfect, but when people aspire to live in peace together it is always a remarkable moment for democracy.
The future is unlimited as long as good people use their strengths collectively in promoting harmony, respect and peace.
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