Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Daddy In Chief

I finally got around to watching President Obama's speech at the Sandy Hook Interfaith vigil.  Some are calling it his Gettysburg Address, even if the President says he doesn't compare himself to Lincoln.

It's a great speech, but I'm kinda partial.  I have an affinity for good daddies.  Some people are attracted to men with beards, men with muscled abs and biceps, men with sultry eyes.  I think the hottest men are the ones with babies in their arms, the ones snuggling on the couch with their six-year-olds watching Star Wars for the five-thousandth time, the ones outside showing their kids the right technique for rolling giants balls of snow in a perfect circle for the base of a snow man.  The ones who obviously care about kids.

I do not have a close relationship with my own father, so perhaps that is why I think good daddies are so delectable.

Here are, in the opinion of this good daddy aficionado, the most meaningful points of President Obama's speech:

It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself.  That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation.  And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that they’re all our children.

This is our first task — caring for our children.  It’s our first job.  If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right.  That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.
And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations?  Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm?  Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return?  Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?
I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no.  We’re not doing enough.  And we will have to change.
Not everyone agrees with the It Takes a Village mentality.  A few months ago I belonged to an online political discussion group that represented a mix of libertarians, conservatives, and progressives.  I recall one particular argument I was involved in with a single, childfree libertarian gentleman who proceeded to call Katie my crotch-fruit after one of my extreme It-Takes-a-Village-ish rants.  Crotch-fruit?  The term is so ridiculously offensive it made me laugh.  I immediately owned it and kept repeating it, referring to my sweet six-year-old girl as only Crotch Fruit until another member asked us to quit using vulgar language in our chats.  The guy who came up with Katie's crotch-fruit moniker eventually blocked me, which led me to discover that others had blocked me too, and that most of the people left in the group who had not blocked me were progressives like me and it's no fun to preach to the choir so I left the group.

I'm happy I did.  It gives me more time to sit in my basement alone, watching PBSNewhour and blogranting my views.

Like this.  Here's more goodness from President Obama:

We know our time on this Earth is fleeting.  We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped.  We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way.  We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships.  And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other.  The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true.  The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters.  We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness.  We don’t go wrong when we do that.

He's got that right.  It doesn't mean he's right all the time though.  Some of the President's policies piss me off.  Like the drone attacks that kill innocent children around the world.  I hope that the horrible events of the Sandy Hook Massacre cause President Obama to rethink his foreign policy and consider the needs of not just American children, but all children.  Including the children in the war zones our country creates.  I hope President Obama learns from his mistakes and considers his own words while making foreign policy decisions in the future:  That fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger.  It's time we think largely.  Of humanity as a whole.  It's time we consider what's best for all God's children.