Thinking Out Loud

President Obama’s Speech

Like so many, I have been critical of the President for not being more aggressive in his rhetoric against those who attack him and his policies. I’ve wondered why he doesn’t hit back. Why does he literally turn to the other cheek?

I am one who believes in the importance of thoughtful, civil, honest communication. I work at it all the time, coaching and encouraging others to do the same. I preach against name calling and characterizing others. And yet (at times) I get frustrated with the President for not lashing out.

Right now (January 11, 2011) I’ve just finished listening to the President’s speech at the University of Tucson—talking to the nation about the tragedy that occurred last Saturday. He spoke healing words, honest words encouraging all of us to truly do our best for and with one another—not to blame and use this opportunity to create more divisions in our nation.

This speech helped me to better understand the President. He will not attack others. He knows it’s wrong and will not do it under any circumstance. I’ve wanted him to act more like a “politician” and counter attack those who attack him. But he will not do this because it would mean sacrificing his personal integrity. He vowed to bring more civility and honesty to the White House.

But sometimes I want him to be mean, to fight. Right now I’m ashamed to admit it, though I wasn’t ashamed before I heard his speech. Now I better understand where he is coming from. He might compromise on policies and positions, but he will not compromise his personal principles about how we treat each other.

Of course he is right about this, whatever you think of his ideas and policies and politics. The example he is setting in his personal conduct may be the most important thing we get from him. At a time like this where this is so much division and vitriol, this is just what we need.

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