Don't Believe The Hype

Yesterday our wee country had a visit from the POTUS.  I love using POTUS, it makes me nostalgic for The West Wing.  I really miss The West Wing.

As I was driving to do a Freedom Acts school session, I flicked on the radio to listen into the broadcast of the event at the Waterfront Hall where a packed auditorium of students, young people and dignitaries were waiting on baited breath the arrival of the Obamas (and their entourage, obvs).  People being interviewed were saying stuff like 'This is a life-changing day for our country' and 'This will put Northern Ireland on the map'.  

Huge. Massive. Eyeroll.

I guess it's easy to understand the draw though - American Presidents are iconic.  They're a little bit like fictional characters to us here in the UK; like they don't really exist outside of TV - and on TV they're always the hero, so getting to see and hear one speak in your home country must have been pretty exciting.

In all the pomp and circumstance (and insanely OTT police presence) a couple of things brought me and my easily-lured-by-the-glamour-of-it-all personality back to reality.  

My husband got word last week that there was a ticket available for him to go to hear Obama at the Waterfront.  Without thinking twice about it, he turned it down.  We talked about it and he made it clear that all the adulation and fuss didn't sit comfortably with him.  You see, my Dave isn't easily swooned like me.  He'd rather sit in a room and have a guinness with Joe Mahon from 'Lesser Spotted Ulster' than listen to Obama.  Maybe it's because he knows someone like Joe Mahon really loves our wee country and has a lot more invested in this beautiful land than an American President.  

Then yesterday in the midst of the hype, my mate Rick tweeted this:  'Ok so I thought what Mr Obama had to say was fantastic. And needed. But do we pay any attention when ordinary people share the same message?'

Nail. On. Head.

What do you think it is about our culture that needs to hear empowering words from someone like Obama in order to feel inspired.  I mean, I'm not naive enough to not understand it.  I guess it just got me thinking about that topsy turvy idea that unless something is said by someone with weight behind them, that has a significant platform or some sort of wide recognition we're unlikely to really listen. 

A couple of years ago I wrote a song - the lyrics came back to me with extra meaning in light of yesterday:


Blessed are the cracked for they let in the light

And blessed are the hungry that are starving to do right

Blessed is the mystery when the truth is out of sight

Insecure and beautiful underneath


Blessed are the complex for not settling

And blessed are the sacrifices, lives of offering

Blessed are the lost, it’s for only them I sing

Insecure and beautiful underneath


Twisted are the values that this world reveals  

 The trophies and the honour seeming wasted

Fruitless deeds make everything appear to me so clear

Credit where it’s due, the unremembered things you do

Will one day find reward, just see it through.


Blessed are the generous that have not much

And blessed are the tactile in a world that’s lost its touch

Blessed are the honest who can’t put a price on trust

Insecure and beautiful underneath


Blessed are the workers that can’t see reward

And blessed are the gentle in the face of such discord

Blessed are the humble when their voices are ignored

Insecure and beautiful underneath


I hope that we can become less fickle.  I hope that we are keeping our ears and eyes open to the people quietly and faithfully going about their business to make our country and our communities more hopeful, more beautiful, more inspiring and more united.  The youth workers, the community workers, the shop-keepers, the civil servants, teachers and volunteers;  these are the people who are invested in our communities and our country and will be there doing their bit, day in and day out, long after the cavalcade has left town.