It’s Harder To Hate Up Close

beoming michelle obamaI just finished Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.  Her voice is straight forward and chatty- no doubt in keeping with her personality. I would recommend her book to anyone who wants to learn what it means to be a person of character, committment, candor and kindness.  

There are many things that fascinated me about Becoming and I’ve lain awake for hours the last several nights thinking about them. But what struck me most is the former First Lady’s appreciation and gratitude for the thousands of personal interactions she has been privileged to have. She made it a priority during her husband’s time in office to visit routinely and at great length with teenagers, mothers, injured military veterans, young women in leadership, elementary school children and a whole host of people she deliberately set aside time to talk with across the country and the world. This despite her incredibly hectic schedule of speeches and official functions and despite the enormous energy she invested during her term as First Lady in the major initiatives she spearheaded with drive and determination- ending childhood obesity, supporting military families and educating girls.

michelle obama with children at a child development center in north carolina public domain

Michelle Obama visits with children at a North Carolina Children’s Center

Those program legacies of hers may be important but what she says she treasures most about her time as First Lady are the opportunities she had to speak intimately with so many of her country’s citizens. If the photos I’ve seen in the media and in her book are any indication many of those encounters ended with a hug from her. 

Michelle says that now when her country is going through troubling times it is those one- on- one conversations she had that give her hope.  She knows first hand the United States is full of good and kind people who truly care about their country.  

Her book is an inspiration for us to try to change the cynicism and “us vs. them” mentality in the world by taking the simple step of engaging in relationship and conversation with all kinds of people, even those who may be very different than we are.  “I’ve learned that it’s harder to hate up close,” Michelle Obama says. 

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