Four reasons Michelle Obama's 2016 DNC speech made a difference

1. It spoke of the familiar

Anyone who has felt isolated, angered, disillusioned, or cynical during these political campaigns had something to connect to in Michelle Obama’s DNC speech last night.  Without mentioning names, Michelle Obama mentioned all of the deplorable acts that would endanger the future of our children with a Trump presidency—whether they be our own children or the children in our lives that we work to inspire.

From the moment that began with flashbacks to past speeches about her husband and  their two daughters who are the heart of their hearts and the center of their world, we re-connected with these national leaders who have, on many occasions, reminded us that they were once ordinary people and ordinary Chicagoans.

And in this kinship, we realized that despite the struggles and the stumbles, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

2. It re-inspired our courage to inspire

Anyone who is raising or caring for or working with children and young people has felt drained or undermined at some point—especially at this time when all forms of media celebrate arrogance, insensitivity, and selfishness.  How do we explain to the children in our lives—to ourselves—that this is not what the world should be?

Well, Michelle Obama reignited the belief that we can fight ugliness by rising above it, no matter how difficult it may seem.  Instead of hooking onto the the sordid scandals of the RNC within her speech, Michelle Obama reminded us how we must move forward in a different direction as a nation to ensure a sane future.

3. It spoke about our fears but emboldened hope

Unlike the fear mongering that we’ve become so accustumed to in the media outlets, Michelle Obama made us reconsider our priorities.  When she revealed that she questioned her family’s decision to take on this presidential role, when she admitted her maternal worries about seeing her seven and ten year olds driven to school in big black cars by big men with big guns, she forced us to reconsider what truly matters to us.

So much opposition has been founded in hate–in self-hate–these days that many of us have felt hopeless, at a loss for control.  But last night, Michelle Obama reminded us that we can work to ensure a better life for the children and young people in our lives.  This way, all future generations will have it better—not just those under our roofs.

4. It reminded us of the power of mothers

Many times in my own life, I’ve looked at a situation and told myself, “The women are stronger than the men.”  In last night’s speech, Michelle Obama reminded me of this truth.  She emphasized what she wanted for her daughters: “A leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all our kids’ promise.”  And she reminded us that a good mother’s priorities are never self-centered.

In her speech, Michelle Obama made enough reference to guarantee us—like all good mothers do—that she knows our fears, our struggles, our disappointments, and the dangers we face.  But—like all good mothers—she inspired us to believe in our capacity to shape our reality despite those personal let downs and those around us who function in selfish ways.

Last week, when I listened to the speeches by Trump’s children, all I kept thinking was, “Damn—this man raised his kids with an incredible confidence that makes them seem unsurpassable.”

As a father of an eleven-year-old boy and an eight-year-old daughter, I want to ensure that that my own children believe in themselves against all odds.  I questioned, “Don’t I want my children to be as confident as the Trump kids?”  But something felt wrong.

Michelle Obama’s speech showed me what was wrong.  The Trump’s children’s inherently brazen and stoic stance is egotistical.

Instead, Michelle Obama reminded us to raise children whose reality is grounded in the sincere understanding of other people’s struggles.  That the children and young people in our lives—whether they be our own or the ones we care for or work with or teach—need to understand the world is not shaped by the sheltered perspective of the lives they live.

Instead, we must work everyday to raise children and young people with a consciousness that our dreams and self-fulfillment must be grounded in “leaving something better for our [for everyone’s] kids.”

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