Michelle Obama, America’s First Lady, describes herself as “Mom in chief.” She is a mum but she is more than a mum. She has the capacity to be a future woman president of the United States to judge by the quality of the address she delivered to the National Democratic Convention today.
She was insightful on her own upbringing, with a pump operator father who suffered from MS and she was insightful too about her husband Barack’s upbringing.
No privilege in either bloodlines. Reared by parents who hammered home basic principles:
“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.
“We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect,” she told delegates.
Turning to her husband the First Lady added “and he believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity… you do not slam it shut behind you… you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”
“You reach back, and you give the folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”
This sentiment renders me emotional. One does not have to have a doctorate in sociology to grasp this concept.
This principle ought to be at the heart of our society. It should be the template for our schools. Put another way, we should go back to the well source of the meaning of the Latin verb ‘educere,’ – to educate, which relates to human values: it is about bringing out that which is within.
Human values are latent in every human being; one cannot acquire them from outside. They have to be elicited from within. Educare means to bring out human values and this bringing out ought to mean translating it into action.
This process of education should not be about self aggrandisement but asking ourselves how do we use our developed talent to improve the lot of those less well off?
I would join the ‘campaign of civil disobedience’ with the people in Denmark Street close to Carlisle Circus on the Antrim Road if their demand was ‘equality in education.’ I know thousands of others of my disposition who would join that campaign.
It is about this issue that Winston Irvine, Billy Hutchinson and other community leaders in Protestant working class areas should be raising their voices and taking to the streets.
Such a campaign would attract the attention of the Barack and Michelle Obamas of this world. Standing witnessing petrol bombs, missiles and masonry raining down on working class police officers who are only a stone’s throw away from the same upbringing will not endear these protesters to anyone.
If you choose to march and protest, make sure that your cause genuinely enhances the well-being of those for whom you claim to speak.
Ask yourselves – do you seriously believe that marching to secure the right to march where you want to march is going to improve education in poor areas like Sandy Row, Rathcoole, Kilcooley Estate in Bangor, the Lower Shankill or in the Village area of South Belfast?
I have examined the examination results in those areas. Within those enclaves rests justification for peaceful revolution, a revolution which will enlist the support of Michelle Obama and her husband Barack.
John Hume was right “you can’t eat a flag.”