Today, Barack Obama gives his farewell address in Chicago. While I was tragically out of town when the free tickets became available to the public, I will no doubt feel an inkling of sadness in the air as I walk through the Loop this afternoon. Sure, traffic will be bad, fights will be had, and some people will be mad. But one thing is for sure: I’m going to miss the fuck out of this president.
I wish I could say it’s because of his many successful accolades as president. I truly hoped by age 27, I would be politically savvy enough to value a president based on job creation, health care installment, foreign oil dependency, Wall Street reform, diversity initiatives, and deficit reduction. But unfortunately, I am not. I’m going to miss Obama because I trust him.
The modern political landscape is a barren wasteland of misinformation, conflicting interests, and photo-ops with people that went viral for wearing Chewbacca masks. And while I would consider myself a left-leaning person, I am neither blind nor ignorant to the questionable morals on both sides of the aisle.
In my short life, trust in politicians is not something I’ve been privileged to. Whether it’s because of their shady backdoor deals, their newsworthy scandals, or that look in their eye that says “I just take a bite out of a Kit-Kat bars instead of breaking them off,” I never felt like any of these people, Democratic or Republican, truly had the best interest of the world at heart. Until Obama.
Yes, the fact that he was cooler than Fonzie definitely helped. I’ll be the first person to admit that likability factored into this instinctual trust I felt in my gut. But it was so much more than that. He didn’t just want to be great to look good, he wanted to be great so we would all experience good. So that the world would become a cooperative place, an understanding place, and maybe even a better place.
As I write this, I can see the thousands of negative posts, memes, comments, and replies I’ve read about Obama in the last eight years. I can hear family members at dinner tables, friends at bars, and strangers on the street condemning him for one thing or another. I can feel the collective disapproval that candidly asks “Where’s my change? Where’s my hope?” And understandably, I don’t have a satisfactory response to any of them. All I can definitively say is, “He tried.”
He tried to change the world for the better. He tried to instill hope in the American people. He tried, every single day, to bring together a country that was divided on everything from abortion to what color a freaking dress was in a meaningful discussion that was devoid of aggression and hate. He tried. He really did.
So if your inherent response to this truly touching farewell address (if I may say so myself) to our current Commander-in-Chief is to showcase aggression or express hate to someone that thinks differently than you, don’t. You may be doing so under the guise of “educating people” or “getting something off your chest,” but that’s not what you’re doing. You’re just making things worse.
For eight years, Obama stood fast in the face of negativity and proved to the world that maintaining your integrity does more for the betterment of the world than being right or wrong. Fortunately, if you want to do your part to make the world a better place, there are a few things you can do:
Feel compassion in the face of aggression. Say “I love you” when someone says “fuck you.” Turn the other cheek when someone wants an eye for an eye. Keep your cool when someone calls it “expresso.” Be Batman in the face of the Joker. Smell lavender when someone farts. It’s what Obama would have wanted.