June 16, 2008

Obama's Father's Day Speech

Much of the press about Obama's Father's Day speech has focused on how he spoke to Black fathers on how they needed to be more involved in raising their children. But it seemed to me that he had a much broader message than that. His message was to all fathers and all parents on what we owe our children and those that come after them. It was a powerful message because it didn't just talk about African-American fathers, but what it means to be a father (and a parent) today when there are so many things that distract us from our real responsibilities.

Read this or watch it here, and let me know if you think this message was delivered to speak only for Black American dads.

Still, I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother – how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle – that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls; that if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock – that foundation – on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer.

...“The first is setting an example of excellence for our children...It’s up to us – as fathers and parents – to instill this ethic of excellence in our children. It’s up to us to say to our daughters, don’t ever let images on TV tell you what you are worth, because I expect you to dream without limit and reach for those goals. It’s up to us to tell our sons, those songs on the radio may glorify violence, but in my house we live glory to achievement, self respect, and hard work. It’s up to us to set these high expectations. And that means meeting those expectations ourselves. That means setting examples of excellence in our own lives.

...The second thing we need to do as fathers is pass along the value of empathy to our children. Not sympathy, but empathy – the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes; to look at the world through their eyes....And by the way – it’s a responsibility that also extends to Washington. Because if fathers are doing their part; if they’re taking our responsibilities seriously to be there for their children, and set high expectations for them, and instill in them a sense of excellence and empathy, then our government should meet them halfway.

...“We should take all of these steps to build a strong foundation for our children. But we should also know that even if we do; even if we meet our obligations as fathers and parents; even if Washington does its part too, we will still face difficult challenges in our lives. There will still be days of struggle and heartache. The rains will still come and the winds will still blow.

“And that is why the final lesson we must learn as fathers is also the greatest gift we can pass on to our children – and that is the gift of hope.

And he concluded with what it means to have a life worth living. It isn't a life trying to beat all others in the game of acquiring more and more. It is much more important that that:

“When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me – how do I make my way in the world, and how do I become successful and how do I get the things that I want.

“But now, my life revolves around my two little girls. And what I think about is what kind of world I’m leaving them. Are they living in a county where there’s a huge gap between a few who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling every day? Are they living in a county that is still divided by race? A country where, because they’re girls, they don’t have as much opportunity as boys do? Are they living in a country where we are hated around the world because we don’t cooperate effectively with other nations? Are they living a world that is in grave danger because of what we’ve done to its climate?

“And what I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children – all of our children – a better world. Even if it’s difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don’t get very far in our lifetime.

This was definitely not a message addressed only to Black dads, but a powerful message addressed to all of us. It is a message designed to call out our better selves if only we can hear.

Posted by Mary at June 16, 2008 07:31 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |
Comments

HOW DARE OBAMA USE WORDS LIKE MIA to describe black fathers neglecting there responsibility to there familys. THIS TERM DESCRIBES REAL MEN WHO GAVE IT ALL FOR THERE COUNTRY. $%$#@#!@

Posted by: W Smith at June 17, 2008 06:15 AM

Having raised four children alone, having dedicated myself to breaking the cycle of divorce in my family... this Obama guy may have my support afterall.

Uhhmmm, W Smith... it's important to know how to spell if you're going to effectively deliver a message. No amount of CAPS shouting is going to change that fundamental. Blow it out your ass, bozo.

Posted by: Ten Bears at June 17, 2008 08:12 PM