I have read with riveting interest the rave reviews for Michelle Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech delivered Tuesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. I caught a buffered version of her speech via YouTube, then read the transcript via the Detroit Free Press.
While the speech was efficient and delivered very well, I did not quite understand what there was about it that could possibly garnish such a wave of gushy, admiring praise?
What I heard was what I hear every day from women friends: a woman talking straight up about things important to her in her life: her children, her family, her past and her hopes.
Yes, she just happens to be the First Lady, she just happens to be black and she just happens to be in the midst of a rather nasty campaign to get her husband re-elected. Yet, there was nothing unusual that would cause me to say – “Wow! That was amazing!”
Newsflash: Women talk like this all the time, every day.
It is called being authentic, being real, being emotionally congruent. It is what those of us from the great Midwest do best: give it to you straight, in truth, from our hearts.
I guess that is why I did not find anything particularly unusual about Michelle’s well delivered speech. It’s the language of most people I choose to keep in my life. It is our normal manner of communicating with one another: with respect, grounded.
What is unusual and more than likely the catalyst behind all the praise is the environment in which Michelle’s speech has occurred. Over these past few years we have witnessed a scourge of divisive, disingenuous, misinformed and downright false information being hurled around the national media landscape.
Additionally, we are serenaded by J-school talking-heads who might know how to google yet have no clue how to frame a conversation morally for 90% of the conversations they engage in and thus resort to posturing, bullying and selfishly vying to brand themselves as media-star purveyors of information.
When a woman of national stature stands before us and simply speaks from her heart in truth, it blows our socks off. It is downright arresting.
Somewhere in our minds we recognize Michelle’s voice, somewhere in our memory we have the voice of our grandmothers, our grandfathers, perhaps our own parents or wise mentors who spoke truth to us, truth intended to guide us, to inform us, to keep us on some kind of moral road forward as youngsters.
In the environment in which we find ourselves today, those voices have often disappeared, drowned out by the constant snide commentary, hurtful allegations of false truths and egotistical posturing for the good of no one but the fool uttering the words.
We are bombarded by money-grubbing bias running rampant across our lives – loud, so loud that we have grown accustom to it. Some of us even believe it. Lie to them long enough and it becomes their truth.
When a strong woman stands up and actually speaks the truth that is in her heart, we are flabbergasted. We nearly forgot what it sounds like, what it feels like in our minds to hear such clarity, such genuine proclamations of one’s life, so very simple yet so very foreign in the sea of rude white noise we find ourselves in.
The overwhelmingly positive praise given Michelle’s ‘ordinary’ speech is a statement to the profound need we have in this country to make an effort at restoring civility to our daily interactions, to recall our earliest lessons in ‘citizenship’ and to respect one another as we participate in the energetic discourse so necessary for the democratic process to function.
poster image: mariopiperni