Who are your role models?
I agree with Amy...I don't know that I think about a few specific people as my role models. I think I think about it like Kristen did in her post...thinking about what I learned from a whole variety of people. I wish I had the energy to make a big list like that tonight. I don't. So I think I'll save that post for another time...when I can really give it its due. I will say, however, the two people to whom I owe the most are my parents. I talked about that back in the first December 2011 Reverb post.
Tonight I want to do a little follow-up to an earlier post...mostly because I've been doing a lot of thinking about this person in the last 6 months. I don't know if I'd say I think of him as a role model...but he is someone whose story has inspired me and motivates me. Then again, maybe that's exactly what a role model is?
|John Doar and President Barack Obama - May 29, 2012|
For the contributions of his life's work, he was recently awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama:
Obama's last statement about Mr. Doar's work is so powerful, "I think it's fair to say that I might not be here had it not been for his work."
And then there is the moving exchange between them as Obama gives him the medal. I'm trying to imagine what Mr. Doar must have been thinking...what he must have been feeling. To be awarded the Medal of Freedom by a man who (had he been alive) would not have been allowed to vote--let alone run for office of any kind--when you set foot in Mississippi in the 1960. I can't even begin to get my brain around it. To watch them shake hands...I wonder what the President said to him? I wonder if Mr. Doar ever imagined that his work would pave the way to such a historic moment? And in 50 short years. I sob when I watch this. The historical magnitude of the moment is just too powerful for me:
I think sometimes it's amazing how people (or their stories) come into our lives at just the time we need them. I find this quote from Mr. Doar about how he and his colleagues in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department viewed their work so incredibly inspirational. The wisdom of seeing the bigger picture and doing things because of their long-term implications, not their short-term gains...exactly the kind of thing that gets you through a long campaign or the impatience of wondering if you'll ever make a difference in the world. I've used Mr. Doar's words as motivation on quite a few fronts in my life in recent months. I remind myself that we do things because they are the right things to do...because they are the things that make sense. I carry these words with me:
"I have often wondered how the Division could have gone about its assignment with such enthusiasm. For a long time I attributed much of it to youth, to what Joseph Conrad calls that moment of strength, of romance, of glamour—of youth. Now I think I’ve found the answer. The spirit of the Division lawyers assigned to enforce the Civil Rights Acts was governed by what President Havel of Czechoslovakia calls a philosophy grounded in hope. This kind of hope is not the same as optimism. It is not a willingness to invest in an enterprise that is obviously heralded for early success, but rather the ability to work hard for something because it makes sense, not because it stands a chance to succeed."
**For more on the life work of Mr. Doar (in his own words) here is a wonderful article from the Florida State University Law Review.