I was sitting in the airport in Atlanta when I heard the news that Obama was going to talk to students this week. Not only that, of course, but the news reported that people were upset about it, concerned that he was going to say something bad to our students. The report said the full speech would be out on Monday (the day before the planned speech) so I decided not to make a judgment until I saw the speech.
Then, a Facebook friend posted the “I Pledge” video saying it was going to be played at schools as part of the talk from Obama. I watched the video, and for the first three minutes or so I didn’t see much that I disagreed with. It’s basically celebrities saying “I pledge” over and over interspersed with what they’re pledging to do — things like be a better mother, be a better father, drink less bottled water, be a good neighbor, turn the lights off, love people more, etc. But then one guys says “I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama” and at the end Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (the video’s producers) say they pledge to serve the president. Hmmm…. I’m not digging the word “serve” there. I don’t “serve” anyone other than God. And the concluding image of Obama seemed too much like hero-worship for me.
Transcript of the Video (including the names of the actors in it)
So I objected to that video being played in schools 1) because it was counter to my faith, and 2) because it was obviously political and barring being used in a high school civics course as part of a discussion/lesson, political ideas should stay out of education. But my feelings about the video had nothing to do with Obama’s speech (unless Obama was playing the video and I still wasn’t sure that he was; my friend’s source was another friend, and the only report in the news about the video was it being played at another school somewhere else.)
So I read Obama’s speech on Monday and thought it was pretty good. Not only did I not object to it I thought it was good for students to hear and to hear from our nation’s leader. Whether I voted for him or not, or whether or not I support all of his ideas, he’s still our president and a role model. He’s not a role model because I agree with him but because he has attained a position of authority that carries with it a certain amount of respect.
I watched part of the speech on the plane from L.A. to Atlanta and because I had already read the text I had no different response to the content. However, I found the delivery a little odd — the setting seemed more like the setting of a political campaign stop than that of a sitting president to the nation’s schoolchildren. I’d preferred to have seen him sitting casually, with students around him. Or, if he wanted to stand, do away with the big banner background and just talk in the high school auditorium/high school gym environment.
I didn’t watch last night’s speech on healthcare because I was at church with my family, and that’s all I have to say about that.