“But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re 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’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.”
At these last words, Chicago immersed itself in the last ringing round of applause on Jan 10th, 2017. What began 8 years ago as an uncertain bet, culminated in profound admiration for the man addressing his home crowd from the podium as the President of the United States of America.
As the uneven but glorious reign of the first African-American State head inched towards its end, half the audience in Chicago reflected the emotions of most of the nation as they chanted “Four more years!” to President Barrack Hussain Obama’s farewell address opening. Obama had showed the power he can wield through ideals alone when he got elected to the chair in 2008. His prowess at words has not only moved hearts over the years but has inspired more minds into being the change.
In his last address, the beloved US President recounted all his ideals only to urge his fellow countrymen to bring about the very change they have wanted to see – to believe in the indestructible power of democracy and acquiesce in his conviction that democracy is but an instrument fulfilling the exigent need to advance together for the greater good. That, all hurdles are but mere trifles once each individual learns his responsibility as a citizen. That, citizenship is the novel idea that has given purpose to generations be it slaves striving to covet freedom or GIs at Omaha beach, Iwo Jima, Iraq and Afghanistan, playing at their own lives in order to save other beating American hearts.
If those soothing words were not enough to register thousands of reverberating claps, the senator went on to recapitulate all the highs, the most powerful nation had achieved under his able political supremacy and attributed the groundbreaking success to the people he had been serving all along – to the might of the united stand, called democracy:
“If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history — if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11 — if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens — if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But that’s what we did. That’s what you did.”
He stressed on the necessity of a peaceful transition as the governance shifts into the hands of President Trump and appealed to the public to address the stark issues that still face America. He further delved into the state of democracy in the nation and that, to ensure the nations’ solidarity even in times of crisis as has been witnessed during the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the existence of equal economic opportunity is primal. Though the economic trends are back on the rising curve, the economic inequality which draws a line of distinction between the middle class and the upper powerful class might cause resignation in the former and ultimately prove corrosive to democratic ideals.
The second issue which challenge democracy is the age-old racial discrimination. From the mouth of the wise President, came some of the words of wisdom rendered with earth shattering effect:
“But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction — Atticus Finch— who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.””
The third threat, according to Obama, is the reluctance of each individual to admit to new information, to step out of the volatile and eventually assailable circle of security, vulnerable to being breached most treacherously by the simple denial of the most blatantly inevitable issues. This unwillingness to accept harsh realities cages the very spirit of innovation which has been an incomparable problem solver in the past with regard to issues ranging from supposedly incurable diseases to ‘putting a computer in each pocket’. This spirit turned out to be the brainchild of the rule of law, human rights and the principles of religious freedom put together – the very instruments that brought about a shroud of peace post the Second World War. But for the fear of change – the fear of a new perception, this order is now under threat. He further thanked the men in uniform responsible for the enforcement of law and security in the most turbulent of cities, declaring himself a proud Commander-in-chief.
Reiterating the significance of democracy in battling the bigger issues often disregarded as expedient, he emphasised on not taking the power of democracy for granted lest it will turn the most powerful nation built on the foundation of pure ideals and liberal thinking into just another big country like China and Russia, one that bullies the smaller nations into submission.
With regard to reduced corruption in politics and active action required the individual participation of the moral enthusiasts instead of conveniently shoving blame onto the shoulders of the government. The president’s voice rang out, saying –
“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve 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 title, the most important office in a democracy: Citizen.”
Before thanking his pillars of support – First Lady Michelle Obama, his daughters Malia and Sasha, the VC Joe Biden and his wife Jill, apart from the entire staff that had served during his tenure, Obama ensured that his message of acknowledging individual responsibilities actually sunk in when for a final time, he appealed to the awestruck spectators to have faith – to have faith in the inspiring and energising quality of goodness itself.
The several eyes blinking in the direction of their beloved spearhead reminisced the beauty of the words that had taken the nation by storm eight years back –
“This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.”