Category Archives: Obama

6

Chatting with the president

As many of our readers and clients know, I met our current president when he was a second-year law student at Harvard University and represented his first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER.  I remember saying to him when he first came to my office to meet me (I believe he was twenty-five years old) that if there was ever to be a black president during my lifetime, I believed it would be he.  I had the distinct impression that this wasn’t the first time he had heard someone say that.

When it came to the sale of the second book, THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, Obama chose to work with a D.C. agent more appropriate to represent someone who was running for office (at the time, the U.S. Senate). We continued to communicate, though, directly or through a close staffer named Reggie Love .

Fast forward to last July when, during the Democratic National Convention, the controversy involving the Khan (Gold Star) family arose and, thinking about my son, who is now an officer in the Marines, I wrote a note to Reggie asking him to convey a message to the president telling him how strongly I felt about his support of military families.  Reggie told me that he would convey my message to the President.

img_2976In response to my note, I received a handwritten letter from Barack telling me how proud he was of Zachary and inviting me to come to the White House to meet with him before he left office.

And so, on Wednesday December 7th my husband and I journeyed to Washington where we met with the President in the Oval Office and talked for about fifteen minutes – about our past, about our children, and about our future.  And as we left, he thanked me for the work I had done for him so long ago and asked that we stay in touch.

This experience was, to say the least, one of the highlights of my career.  To have been a part of this man’s professional life and career is something I am very proud of and I will remember his words always.

2

Expand Your Empathy Through Novels

President Obama, while talking on the subject of empathy and how it helps him be a better president and citizen, said in an interview with The New York Review of Books, “The most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels. It has to do with empathy…And the notion that it’s possible to connect with some[one] else even though they’re very different from you.”

I don’t mean to quote this to be political, but his words stood out to me because he said everything I feel about novels. This is why I read. I love being able to get into the head of another person—even if that person isn’t real. It allows me to understand the world through another perspective, and this is tantamount to better understanding other people.

We all have different lives and different obstacles that lead to the same emotions. While you may not be able to understand how it feels to say, be a war refugee, if you read about the pain another is experiencing, those feelings can be understood because no matter your economic status, your race, your nationality, you have the same raw emotions as every other person on this earth—that’s what connects us.

Empathy grows through every novel we read. We chip away at the mystery of humanity with every word. So what are you waiting for?

What books have taught you to be more empathetic?