*Eleditor’s note: Elephant is a diverse community of sixteen million readers and hundreds of writers (you can write too!). We are reader-created. Many blogs here are experience, opinion, and not fact or The One Right Point of View. We welcome all points of view, especially when offered with more sources and less invective, more frankness and less PR. Dislike this Op-Ed or opinion? Share your own take here.
If Dickens were alive today, he might say the past eight years have been the best of times, and the worst of times. The age of wisdom, and the age of foolishness.
When I think about the headlines from the past eight years, there have been some doozies.
We watched in awe as President Obama made history as our first African American President.
Air France lost a jet during a transatlantic flight. We held our breath until the plane was recovered, and cried for the families whose loved ones would not come home.
BP dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. We watched workers clean up little animals with dish soap, and wondered if oil would ever become obsolete in our economy.
We watched the Olympic torch travel around the globe, with stops in Beijing, Vancouver, London, Sochi, and Rio.
The Casey Anthony trial consumed us for a moment, as our hearts broke for the little girl who tragically lost her life.
We bailed out our banks, and the auto industry. We watched the stock market climb, plummet, climb again, and take interest rates along for the bumpy ride.
We saw countless natural disasters around the globe—tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires. Mother Nature was unmercifully dramatic at times.
We witnessed tragedy unlike any other time I can remember. As a nation, we mourned for the families who lost their loved ones at Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon, the Colorado movie theater, Penn State, and the night club in Orlando—to name a few.
We lost young black men to senseless violence brought by those sworn to protect and serve them.
We lost so many iconic celebrities. It seemed all my childhood memories dimmed as my favorites were taken—many of them too soon.
We cried tears of joy when the Supreme Court finally made it legal for our gay friends to get married. It was the biggest human rights victory my generation had experienced firsthand.
Marijuana became slightly less criminal in certain places—and totally legal in others.
Caitlyn Jenner showed us moment by moment what she experienced while coming out to her family, and the world, as transgender.
We watched the nastiest presidential election I can remember, and for many of us the outcome was absolutely unfathomable. We stepped away from the news for a moment to try to make sense of it.
Yes, the past eight years have been eventful. Certainly, there has been no shortage of news for us—and this is just a quick list of the domestic matters I can remember.
But, in my opinion, one notable event never made the headlines. President Obama didn’t do anything to embarrass us.
I am a baby of the Jimmy Carter era. I don’t remember him, as I was only two when he left office, but I do remember Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no” campaign when I was in elementary school.
When I think of Bush Senior, I remember him vomiting on a Japanese Prime Minister.
When I think of Bill Clinton, I only think of Monica Lewinsky.
When I think of George W. Bush—it’s all about the oil war, and all the times he couldn’t put a sentence together.
President Obama was different.
Maybe he felt like he had something to prove as the first black POTUS.
Maybe, he’s simply a poised, articulate man of integrity.
For eight years, we watched him look at his wife like she is the most amazing creature he’s ever laid eyes on. Not even a whisper of a sex scandal.
When I think of President Obama, I’ll remember how solid he and the first lady seemed—and how much they loved their daughters.
I’ll think about the way he changed healthcare for people who were previously uninsured or uninsurable. Obamacare is not my favorite solution to our healthcare crisis. But, as a healthcare professional, I do feel it was a well-intended step in the right direction. It helped a lot of people who needed help.
In many ways, I’ll remember President Obama as a symbol of equality, integrity, and compassion.
As we brace ourselves for what the next four years hold for us as a nation, our hearts are heavy. Uncertainty looms. We fear that the next administration will undo all the good things we’ve celebrated together.
We’ve seen the true colors of friends, family members, and strangers on social medial. I’ve never seen so many racists, homophobes and misogynists come forward to defend the ways they hate, segregate, discriminate, and judge.
We’ve seen just how passionate people can be in their ignorance.
But, I choose to live in a world where the good guys win.
I choose to believe that love is more powerful than hate.
I choose to put my faith in people who have good intentions, big hearts, and voices loud enough to rise above the noise.
President Obama once said,
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Perhaps, this was the most important thing he ever said to us.
As we say goodbye to my favorite President, let us remember that he left us with this charge. We must each work toward the greater good of this country.
We must each, individually, stand up for those who need a champion.
We must each be the change we wish to see.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Editor: Toby Israel