Hero Worship

Today we join the world in celebration of the Inauguration of Barack Obama, the man who, from all reports, is our country’s best choice and best chance at recovering from the current messes we are in.  His intelligence, kindness, and reasonableness are worth noting and worth honoring.   Many words will be uttered and written today about this man on whom we are pinning most if not all of our national hopes; and the effect he has had in our home is no less than the effect he has had on the world.

Oscar and Edgar know it is Inauguration Day.  They know the name of our soon-to-be new president.  And they know he and his family are moving into the White House today.  They have a wonderful book on Obama and, thanks to Santa, a Barack Obama action figure.

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Santa thought long and hard before procuring this action figure:  Do toys such as this trivialize an important office?  Is placing an Obama action figure alongside Buzz Lightyear in a frenzy of childhood play appropriate?   Ultimately, Santa decided in favor of the toy for the possibilities it offered, for the discussions it might inspire, for the fact that Barack Obama is poised to stand alongside any “superhero” from any point in time.

In thinking back to my childhood toys, there were no Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Edith Wharton action figures.  There was Wonder Woman, who, as I recall, twirled and emerged in a skimpy outfit, reinforcing oh-so-many stereotypes about women without my even realizing it at the time.   My brother had Superman and the Incredible Hulk, superheroes who relied on physical strength to solve problems.

Barack Obama, without slighting his physical strength, will rely on his wits and intellect to solve problems.  His coolness in the face of adversity stands in stark contrast to the superheroes of the past, whose anger often precipitated the requisite transformations.  And there will be no need for him to don a cape or fancy armbands.  He is complete in and of  himself, gaining his powers from a lifelong commitment to education, observation, and involvement.

And though it may be premature to place him in the pantheon of superheroes, it is my wish that one day–and sooner rather than later–he will earn his place.  We can’t control who will be our children’s role models–can we?  But in four hours, President Obama is in the running.  And with him as our nation’s children’s role model, parents and caregivers around the country can collectively exhale.

Happy Inauguration Day!

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