Monday, April 13, 2009

Aspirations

It seems that when the Obamas visited Great Britain earlier this month there was some brouhaha. Our first lady touched the Queen! (Go ahead, gasp, you know you want to.) The thing is, if you read the accounts, the Queen started it. We may indeed be stepping gently into a new era, the Queen may start wearing Birkenstocks and going vegan. OK, probably not, but perceptions are changing.

Take for instance this quote from another part of the First Family's visit: a cancer patient said [of Mrs. Obama], "I didn't think I'd be allowed to touch her, but she just stopped and wrapped her arms around me. It was amazing."

Who does that remind you of?
It got me to thinking about whether Michelle Obama is the United States' Princess Diana. The late Princess of Wales was credited with making the royal family more accessible and making the people of Great Britain, indeed the world, feel heard by the Windsors. She worked to find a balance between the unspoken contract of her job and her convictions. She was, I believe, unprecedented in the amount of her own time she dedicated to charitable pursuits.

I had a hard time thinking very far back. I couldn't conjure up a time when a first lady had been someone that Americans felt they could wholeheartedly look up to. The photographs of Michelle Obama developing an organic garden at the White House were, for me, reminiscent of Diana touring medic camps and land mine sites. The pro-active nature and willingness to try new things is inspiring to me. She seems the sort of woman, like Diana, who would listen when you spoke, even when they've spent their lives listening to the same old thing.

I am excited about the prospect of America having something we've never had before in a First Lady.
Oh. Then again, maybe she's not brand new. And yet, I welcome the return of this sort of grace, dignity and intelligence to our leadership ranks. I am grateful for this view of someone to whose accmplishments I can aspire and I am, for once, delighted by this instance of history repeating itself.

3 comments:

  1. Okay, as I was reading and scrolling, I got to the pic of Diana and got goosebumps.

    Yes. That's who Michelle reminds me of, but in a VERY different way. Michelle has a confidence that Diana never had, even toward the end of her life. They both have similar openness of heart, I think, but Michelle seems less reserved, less frightened. I always got an undercurrent of fear from Diana.

    Though I'm only going on history lessons, I wonder if our current first lady doesn't channel a bit of Eleanor Roosevelt, too, in her strong-mindedness and her convictions about fairness and doing what's right.

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  2. Interestingly Eleanor R had a lot in common with Diana, too. She was depressive and in a marriage that was probably squelching her actual nature. She disappeared from the public eye a couple of times and almost didn't make it back.

    I see what you're saying, though, and I agree that Mrs. O has a stability in her current and former life that infuse her personality with a weight that Diana and Jackie never really found. It's a fascinating through line.

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  3. You hit the nail on the head. Michelle O. is very much like our Princess Di in regards to fashion and her open personality. But as you say she seems to have more substance, and the love of a good man, and that makes her much more fascinating.

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