Yes, I bawled too!

Did you watch President Barack Obama’s stirring valedictory speech which he delivered in his hometown Chicago? I did. By the end, he was wiping away tears………..and, well, I was bawling too.

Now I know some of you must find that a little silly, like why was she crying over an American president’s speech? Well, I’m sure even his worst critics will admit that he’s a natural and powerful orator with this unique ability to connect with his audience and excite them with energy. He connects with me anyway. Every time I hear him speak, I am reminded of all that is good and hopeful and change that is possible.

Over the past eight years, the outgoing first African American President has delivered many speeches that were eloquent and heartfelt, including the healing speeches after the many horrific incidents of mass shootings and other sad events that have marred his country. And in his nostalgic and sometimes emotional final address to his nation, the President stood unapologetic after eight tough years, an unrepentant champion of hope and change. He argued passionately for progressive change and teared up when he paid tribute to his wife Michelle and his daughters Malia and Sasha.

Coming full circle, Mr Obama wrapped up by recalling his 2007 campaign launching address – "For now, whether you're young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President - the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago. I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change - but in yours.”

It was an inspiring speech and, guess what, I found many lines speaking directly to us too. My main takeaways from the Obama farewell speech are:

1. But remember, none of this (change and rebuilding) happens on its own. All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.

2. When we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt. And when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

3. It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.

4. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.

5. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.

6. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organising.

7. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.

8. Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But…..more often than not, your faith………..will be confirmed.

Hmmmmm, we want change, right?