In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Value, and Values, of Barack: It's Not Weak to Be Kind

I appreciated this address of Obama's from Father's Day yesterday. He had me laughing a number of times through, but also provided some nice, sober thoughts on parenting. At one point he hit on ethics, which always interests me, saying:

"The third 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 someone else's shoes, to look at somebody through their eyes. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in us, in me, that we forget about our obligations to other people, to one another. There's a culture in our society that says remembering to look out for other people is somehow being soft. We hear that even in our politics, in Washington, that's it's all about you, look out for your self-interest, don't look out for others. You know, our young children, they see that, they see when you're ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when your inconsiderate at home, when you're distant, when you're thinking only of yourself. So it's no surprise we see that behavior in our schools and on our streets. And that's why we have to teach young people, there's nothing weak about being kind, there's nothing weak about being thoughtful, there's nothing weak about being considerate. We gotta teach our children that you're not strong by putting other people down, you're strong by lifting other people up--that's our responsibility as fathers...When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me--how do I make it in the world, how do I become successful, how do I get the things I want. But now my life revolves around my two little girls...and what I think about is what kind of world am I leaving them. Are we leaving them a country where there's a huge gap between a few people who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling everyday? Am I leaving them a country that's still divided by race, a country where, because they're girls, they don't have as much opportunity as boys do? Am I leaving them a country where we're hated around the world because we don't cooperate with other nations?...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..."

Among other things, he goes on to make an interesting note, that when fathers are taking responsibility (yes, "responsibility," that word conservatives attempt to claim as theirs alone), that the government has an obligation to do its part for them--allowing health care to be affordable, having a fair tax code, providing job training, paid sick leave, etc. Check out the whole video below, it's a worthwhile 20 minutes or so (P.S. - At one point I think he uses the word "promises" when he means to say "challenges," or something like "challenges"--see if you hear that, and throw a comment my way if you do :). A product of having to talk day in and day out I suppose):

Above photo credits: From Obama's Flickr page, some rights reserved.

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