Okay, so how cool is it that the Obamas are tearing up 1,100 square feet of the White House lawn to plant a kitchen garden? I can't wait to see the pictures of Michelle, Barack, and their kids tending the White House garden splashed on the front pages of newspapers around the world. It will be a welcome contrast to the usual White House photos of fancy, black-tie balls and dreary, formal meetings with heads-of-State. Presidential publicity just doesn't get better than this.
That's what I thought this morning when I picked up the NY Times and saw Michelle's vegetable garden on the front page. But then, further into the first section of the paper, there was another picture of the First Lady. This time she was laughing with a group of high-school seniors from a public school in one of the least-served neighborhoods in DC. Another public relations homerun! When it comes to challenging domestic issues, the First Couple has made some very smart choices about where to shine the spotlight.
As impressed as I am with the Obama's choice of issues, I am equally impressed by how they're raising awareness. They don't just say it's important to eat fresh fruits and vegetables; they show us by planting, weeding, and tending a kitchen garden. Michelle Obama doesn't just give a speech in honor of Women's History Month, she organizes 22 extremely impressive ladies to talk to students in DC high-schools that have been hit hardest by the economic downturn. By walking their talk, the Obamas demonstrate for their children (and ours) authenticity in both speech and action.
The domestic issues facing Americans today are so vast that many feel helpless - as if nothing one or a few of us do can make a difference. It's here - in countering this sometimes-paralyzing sense of helplessness - where the two thousand five hundred year-old teaching of mindful awareness can be of help. The first step toward meaningful change is building awareness of what's happening in, to, and around you. That's why the practice is called mindful awareness! Clearly seeing life experiences without an emotional charge may not solve every problem, but levelheaded awareness will help you better understand them and respond skillfully.
Planting a vegetable garden on the White House lawn, and showing high-school kids what walking the talk looks like, are two wonderful examples of raising awareness of, and skillfully responding to, domestic problems that sometimes feel insurmountable. I wonder where the Obamas will shine the spotlight next?