Letter to Michelle Obama After The Shootings In Arizona

Dear Mrs. Obama,

Have you let your husband out of your sight since Saturday?

The look on your face during the moment of silence for the Tucson shooting victims spoke volumes to me. You look grimly terrified in the pictures. You look like a woman who is willing to throw herself in front of a bullet aimed at her man or her kids.

You look like a woman who thinks you will someday have to do it.

When I watched you grasp hands with Captain Kelly at the memorial for the victims of the massacre who passed and the tribute to Representative Giffords and the others who were wounded, you look liked like you knew you were reaching out to a man who is a member of a club who are afraid you may someday join. A club peopled with the likes of Nancy Reagan, Yoko Ono, Sarah Brady. You looked like you were thinking “That could be me. Will it be me?”

Way back during the campaign, the one you may not have wanted to be part of, when the criticism got very tense and very personal, you reportedly asked Valarie Jarret “Why would they try to make people hate us?”. Why, indeed. It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now. So many people were out there spewing terrible, terrible things about you and your husband – and they do it to this day – and you knew that those words could put you in danger. The danger of being attacked physically, the danger of watching your husband attacked physically, the danger that an assassin might succeed and your girls would lose a parent. The fear that a character assassin would succeed and your girls would lose their trust in the world. Because how could children trust a world full of people who say unfair, untrue things about their very real, very human, Mommy and Daddy?

In all this talk about civility and mending the tone of our discourse I think you might be the best messenger to remind us of the key fact about so many of those we criticize in open space: you have children who hear. When you made the choice to take your family into politics, as you and your husband did, you chose to educate your daughters on the practice of dissent. I imagine you can easily explain to them why leaders of the opposition party say things about the policy choices and political priorities your husband’s administration embraces. But how to do explain what critics say about him as a person? Moreover, how do you explain what they say about you as a person, you who aren’t a politician at all? And how do any of us justify saying terrible things about public figures when it’s possible that their kids will hear it? Looking at you this week, I’m suddenly very ashamed of every ad hominem insult I’ve ever lobbed at an elected official or celebrity who has kids.

I took a moment last week to chat with the mother of another child. He was tired as we were chatting and wrapped his chubby arms around her neck and laid his little face on her shoulder and she was rocking him a bit as we talked.  It was a mother-son interaction I’ve been part of myself hundreds of times with my own child. The only difference between us in that moment is that there is almost no chance that my son will be subject to hearing character assassination of me some time in his future. But the angelic little blonde boy who rested his cheek on his mother’s shoulder that night may someday read terrible things about his Mommy because she is a politician.

You already know how that feels, don’t you?

I’m sorry it took such an horrific set of events to remind me that talking smack about someone’s mama is not good manners. I’m sorry it was the image of your strong, determined face as you walked in the shadow of what must be your worst nightmare that was my clarion call. But I hope this is a crossroads for all of us to be kinder to everyone.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

18 comments for “Letter to Michelle Obama After The Shootings In Arizona

  1. January 13, 2011 at 11:31 am

    very well done! Made me stop and think. You’re (of course) right. This tragedy hurts my heart and devastates me.

    “You look like a woman who thinks you will someday have to do it.”
    Dear God I hope not. I hope that no one ever has to feel that pain again. I can hope… and I do.

  2. January 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Beautifully written. And yes. Your right. I’ve done it as well. For all of my “THEY need to stop”, I need to focus on fixing what comes out of my own mouth.

  3. January 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I was watching her during the speech last night on TV and her body language and the look on her face spoke volumes. She’s just like any other mother: Willing to sacrifice herself for her children or husband. Awesome, awesome woman.

  4. Erica Snipes
    January 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I enjoy your blog so much–thank you for your words and your perspective. I cried at President Obama’s words last night, and was moved by our First Lady’s attitude and presence in this horrible tragedy. Indeed “kids will hear, see, and learn” should be the filtering and hushing words that we should all think about whenever we speak or act. Thanks again for a wonderful post.

  5. January 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Kiki_Dawn. Amen Sister.

  6. Cooper's Momma
    January 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    This moved me more than I could express to you. I had the same thoughts, and as I write this, I am looking at the goosebumps on my arms, and praying that this world, and all of us in it, realize that it is time we change. For us, for our future, and for our kids.

  7. January 13, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Excellent post. I believe Michele Obama is a magnificent first lady. I could see the same thing written on her face as you described.

  8. January 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Lovely post and beautifully written.

    The hate has to stop. It just has to.

  9. Shelley
    January 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I got all choked up when I saw Mrs. Obama take Captain Kelly’s hand in Tucson. I also neared tears when President Obama was calling out all of the people who reacted to the shooter and took him down. He called them all heroes which is so true. Each time I think about the little girl who was killed, my heart hurts and my throat tightens.

  10. January 14, 2011 at 8:42 am

    This is just beautiful. Seriously. It is so true and it is why women often times just GET IT better. You absolutely nailed this letter and I agree 100%. Watching her face, all I could think about was that I wanted to hug her. I wanted to pour her a cup of tea, give her a hug, and tell her that I’m so very, very sorry for how scared she must feel every. single. day.

  11. amy
    January 14, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I always admire how you write and this post speaks volumes of another womans feelings/emotions. Thank you for this post.
    We Must Stop Hate!

  12. January 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    T. @ Snuggle Wasteland turned me on to this post. It’s a wonderful message to all of us — very heartfelt and true. Thanks for writing it.

  13. January 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I hadn’t considered that, but of course you’re right. All of her worst fears just moved a little closer to home.

  14. January 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Great post, friend. xoxo

  15. January 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

    This is beautifully written and a reminder to all that our president and his family are human beings. Human beings who make mistakes, don’t always have a perfect solution, but stand up to do one of the most difficult jobs in the world, despite endless ridicule and persecution from people who are NOT doing that job. Thank you for this reminder.

  16. Jennifer
    February 16, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Powerful. Wow.

  17. sam
    July 24, 2011 at 4:38 am

    w.o.w it is wow letter toall of us

Comments are closed.