Striving for Empathy, Humility, and Compassion

This weekend I watched “The Way I See It”: a documentary about Pete Souza, the official White House photographer for the Reagan and the Obama administrations.

Watching world events unfold as of late, I have felt more and more disheartened. And then, watching this documentary, watching the leadership of President Obama in particular, I again felt inspired and hopeful.

In fact, I can’t stop thinking about it. Words such as empathy, humility, compassion are foremost on my mind. Among many other moments, this documentary showed President Obama’s address to the nation after the horrific Sandy Hook shooting. I remember watching it when it occurred. Watching it now, I was especially struck by his authentic empathy, his obvious love and compassion for others. All others.

Each of us are in a leadership role of some sort. Whether we lead students, staff, or our own families, we are leaders.

When we make decisions, do we make decisions with respect for human dignity? Do we acknowledge and appreciate the impact of our decisions on the people around us? Do we listen to and consider alternative points of view? Do we lead with authenticity? Do we stand up and speak up for others?

I know that President Obama was not perfect in the role of president and I don’t necessarily agree with every decision he made. However, I have the utmost respect for his confidence to surround himself with diverse viewpoints, for his contemplative nature, for his willingness to change his thinking, for his ability to lift others up, for his genuine kindness.

Today I leave the last words to him: “We may not be able to stop evil in the world, but how we treat one another is entirely up to us.”

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