When I saw this video of President Obama, Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If,” came immediately to mind.
“There is the kind of man that Kipling was talking about in his poem,” I thought.
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:”
These are all of the qualities necessary to be a true leader—a man amongst men.
“…a man’s behavior in response to deleterious events and cruel men is important; he must continue to have faith in himself when others doubt him, he must understand that his words might be twisted and used for evil, he must be able to deal with the highest and lowest echelons of society, and he must be able to withstand the lies and hatred emanating from others.”
President Obama responds to his detractors here with all of the characteristics Kipling spoke of in his poem—and he is doing it with perhaps the single characteristic that Kipling left out.
A sense of humor.
He drops zinger after zinger, demonstrating in a gentle way that he can “trust himself when others doubt him and make allowance for their doubting too.” He eviscerates his detractors continued lies about him with humor, showing how in “being hated,” he “[does] not give way to hating.”
Mr. Obama exhibits in this one clip every quality in a leader that Kipling expounds in his great poem—and does it with the immaculate comic timing and poise of a professional stand-up comedian, but at the same time, entirely, one hundred percent Presidential.
The video is a few months old now, but it seems more relevant than ever. The Putin punchline is the absolute winner for me!
(This is the full speech, but the best bits are from around 8:00-18:00 minutes.)
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Video Screenshot