Today I received the book Hugs from Obama: A Photographic Look Back at the Warmth and Wisdom of President Barack Obama. As you might expect, it is full of tender (and sometimes amusing) photos of Obama with everyone from babies to seniors: all ages and all ethnicities. The pictures are complemented by his own words.
One of my favourites quotes in the book is this: “For, it turns out, 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.” On the opposing page Barack Obama lies on his back on the floor of the White House, smartly dressed in a suit, lifting a baby dressed in an elephant sleeper in the air above his head – eye contact and smiles shared.
On another page, the words he spoke at a memorial service in Arizona in January of 2011: “It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” In the accompanying picture he embraces a women whose head rests on his shoulder, smile on her face, eyes closed.
I can tell this is a book I will flip through from time to time… perhaps when I want to be reminded of the grace and integrity in our world… perhaps when I need some inspiration or a smile.
It’s only fitting that I leave the last words to him: “We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.”