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Mark Goulston, M.D.

Mark Goulston, M.D.

Posted April 7, 2009 | 12:40 PM (EST)

Michelle and the Queen - "You go girl(s)"


It was the hug seen around the world.

First Queen Elizabeth reached out to put her arm around Michelle Obama and then Michelle without hesitation returned the gesture, and dare I say, favor.

Then the media flew in to question if and whether this broke protocol. The Huffington Post was all over it with Anya Strzemien's story: Michelle Obama Hugs Queen, Stirs Controversy.

Was it politically motivated? Was it a gaff? Was it symbolic of the New World deigning to enter and shake up the Old World?

I have reviewed the video and read the stories and saw something else.

Is it possible that two duty bound, noble (in the descriptive vs. royal sense) women, with so much responsibility on their plates and so many roles to fill and balance saw, valued and then spontaneously acknowledged that in each other?

Is it possible that a siloed "Queen" and siloed "First Lady" realized that they shared a common sky above of "let's make this a better world for our people and our children" and related on a common ground below of "It ain't easy staying in touch with humanity and staying above the fray at the same time." (See a quick talk on How to Break Down Silos)

To me what was so "breaking with protocol" was that in this highly siloed, don't want to be hassled on the outside-so damn lonely on the inside world, Michelle and Queen Elizabeth's spontaneous gesture touched an ache in all of us to be seen, valued and acknowledged by our fellow human beings.

I think the need to find fault in their mutual reaching out may have been fueled by that longing in us. And rather than feeling our own pain too acutely, we needed to find something wrong in their gesture.

I remember some years ago I appeared on the BBC by satellite from Los Angeles regarding an American "bachelor" like television show that played to people's fantasies and seemed ever so base and ever so tawdrily American.

The BBC asked me if I thought such a sensationalistic show could lead to lasting love? I responded that if I had the choice between believing that fairy tales could come true or being skeptical, cynical and "British," that I would choose the former.

Their response to my temerity: "Let's keep him on for the next time we air in two hours."