Obama in Dallas

Image: President Barack Obama (pixabay.com)

President Obama gave a remarkable speech in Dallas yesterday. If you did not have a chance to listen to it, you can find the text of the speech here.

Usually when U.S. presidents give speeches at memorial services, the content is fairly innocuous. They seek to comfort, and avoid controversy at all costs. That was what I expected today when I flipped on the radio to listen.

Instead, I heard my President speak to many different constituencies, seeking to draw them together despite a week in which events have driven us apart. He spoke respectfully and very personally of each of the fallen police officers in Dallas. He acknowledged that they were killed as they watched over a peace march, a march that called the nation to witness the deaths of two men at the hands of police. He spoke to their families and fellow officers, but not only to them. He spoke as well to all those who marched peacefully under the #BlackLivesMatter banner, acknowledging that all is not well and that we all need to do more.

I am sure that there were some who heard that speech for whom it was “too much” or “not enough.” I can only imagine the care that went into crafting those words, walking the tightrope of agonies, but it was clear to me that he was trying to bridge that gap and bring us all together again.

So if you didn’t hear the speech, read it. Don’t settle for soundbites on the evening news; the whole thing ran to 40 minutes. It’s all worth hearing.

“We do not persevere alone. Our character is not found in isolation. Hope does not arise by putting our fellow man down, it is found by lifting others up. – Barack Obama, 7/12/16

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

7 thoughts on “Obama in Dallas”

  1. I it was clear to me that President Obama was trying to bridge that gap and bring us all together again. and I agree that my President’s speech yesterday was eloquent, well thought-out and directly heartfelt on a topic that few others would have dared to touch and to that I say,”Bravo!”

    I have to take exception with you Rabbi Ruth with your comment “it was clear to me that he was trying to bridge that gap and bring us all together again.” My reason for this, is there is no trying there is only do. I truly believe POTUS does what he says in working to bring the citizens of the USA together, but sadly I also believe there are some citizens working the opposite who want only to pull us all apart based on race, creed or whatever designation of their choice. How sad! To those individuals the speech yesterday I believe went on deaf ears. None-the-less, my obligation is still to continue to reach out and hopefully speak the positive and change their minds.

    1. Sadly, I agree that there are people who only want division. It’s up to the rest of us to drown out their voices – vote them down at the polls – make it clear that they are always and forever a minority voice that will not be allowed to poison our public discourse.

  2. I also agreed with his thought that we are past time for words, it is action that is needed to back up those words, or as some put it, walk the talk. I feel that if each of us does a little more to be first with the kind word or gesture and forego the angry response or look, we will do much to create a more harmonious society. Building up the job opps is gonna be harder. Those who are already in the fore front of building trust and growing opportunities must be encouraged that we have leadership who knows how important their efforts are and is backing them.

    1. Agreed, Meredith, and we need to push our elected officials to come up with ways to encourage and incentivize businesses to hire more broadly and pay decent wages.

  3. I have been so troubled for the past week and still not settled, as certainly what is laying ahead is going to be a difficult path to the general election in November and I am fearing how things will play if we all go “back to business as usual” after the heat and the shock subside… if we do not participate in a conversation with all.

    But we certainly do not have all the necessary tools and training. I have been in awe at the DallasPD for what they have obviously been able to do to train their force to de-escalate and bridge the gaps between communities.

    I virtually attended the whole memorial service that was broadcasted on the White House stream. It can be re-played here I believe https://youtu.be/toNNvebxVsI?t=54m8s

    I agree with you, Rabbi Ruth, that it is important not to stop at soundbites.

    1. Thank you for the link, Otir! I agree, we need the tools and training, and we need leaders to provide them. Some of that should come from the government sphere, as with the Dallas PD, and some will I hope come from faith communities and other nonprofit entities. One thing we can all do is to watch for opportunities to learn that are appropriate to our situation.

      Thank you so much for your comment, as always on point and helpful!

  4. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. As I’m across the pond, this was lost in our news (not the shooting, but the memorial speech) as we gained a new Prime Minister. It is very heartening, at a time when our UK politics at least seems to be imploding, and so called leaders are absconding from their responsibilities, to hear a leader who speaks with grace, eloquence but also passion and determination. Of course, the circumstances are deeply saddening, but I hope Obama’s words are taken to heart and acted on, not just in your nation, but my own as well.

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