“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
That was the scripture from Matthew 6:21, quoted a few hours ago by Ted Strickland at the US Democratic National Convention 2012 in a bid to chew the Republican opponent. Still a full blooded West African with interests and treasures deep-seated in Nigeria, I am no political authority on the US politics. Matter of fact, the level of bickering, blame-shifting and catty content displayed in the "My name is Barack Obama/Mitt Romney, and I approve this message" TV ads have been more than a tad disappointing. I take interest in news and events around the globe and in reality, there's no denying the fact that there has been an over-share of promises and an under-dose of deliveries in the last four years by the Obama administration to the American people. However, with the convention underway, the incumbent president and party have a platform to redeem their image and regain confidence and votes of the people needed for re-election.
The state of the Union is definitely beyond convention speeches but I must confess, Michelle Obama was my hero last night. I had waited for this speech and when it came, I was nothing short of impressed. She was phenomenal, every inch a power woman as she delivered her points on the American spirit, experiences, values, family, policies and how they connected to the lives of the American people.
"Like so many of us that was the measure of his success in life: being able to earn a decent living that allowed him to support his family. And as I got to know Barack, I realize that even though he had grown up all the way across the country, he had been brought up just like me.
... all you have to guide you are your values and your vision and the life experiences that make you who you are. So when it comes to rebuilding our economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother. He's thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day's work. That is why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work. That is why he cut taxes for working families at small businesses and fought to get the industry back on its feet.
Barack knows the American dream because he's lived it. And he believes that when you work hard and done well and walk through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that help you succeed. He is the same man who started his career by turning down high- paying jobs and instead of working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shutdown, fighting to rebuild communities and get folks back to work. Because for Barack, success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."
For me, it was more than her ethnicity - her authenticity resonated with the dreamer/mother/daughter and people roles within me as well as paths I've taken and dreamed of treading. I connected with her on different levels as she spoke so highly and proudly of her dad, and I saw a similitude with my modest background, principle-driven, hard work stickler and eternally supporting/sacrificing for their children's successes mother, the one human being whom I owe everything I am and aspire to be. Hear her:
"I see how those stories, our collection of struggles and hopes and dreams, I see how that's what drives Barack Obama every single day...We get there because of folks like my dad, folks like Barack's grandmother, men and women who said to themselves, "I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams but maybe my children will. Maybe my grandchildren will.''
And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us, you know if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, connect the world with a touch of a button, then surely, we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grand kids, right?
And if so many brave men and women could sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights, then surely we can do our parts as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights. If farmers and blacksmiths could win an independence from an empire, if immigrants could leave behind every, if women can be dragged to jail for seeking to vote, if a generation could defeat a depression and define greatness for all time, if a young preacher could lift us to the mountain top with his righteous dream ... then surely, surely, we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American dream. You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still mom-in-chief... I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and for all of our sons and daughters, if we want to give all of our children a foundation for their dreams, and opportunities worthy of their promise, if we want to give them a sense of that limitless possibility, their belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you are willing to work for it, then we must work like never before..."
It is with that sense of limitless possibility, content and mode of delivery that I carry on with my dreams and ambitions, purpose and pursuits. May the best man win.
Photo credits: The Sydney Monitoring Herald.