Researchers tell us that our preferential ability to recognize faces begins at an early age. An infant can recognize her mother or primary caregiver in a crowded room. As we age, we develop a preference for living in close proximity and socializing with those who share our racial or ethnic identity. We recognize those faces and make assumptions that their life experiences are like our own and that these individuals share our values.
Of the over 700 faces present for President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address, there were faces that allowed us to transcend race and recognize our collective identity:
Andra Rush, an entrepreneur became the face of success and pulling oneself up from one's bootstraps, even when the boots did not have straps.
Misty DeMars, a college-educated mother of two sons, became the face of the impact of unemployment and the necessity of unemployment benefits.
Estiven Rodriquez, a high school graduate headed to college, became the face of perseverance and the value getting a good education.
Nick Chute and his boss John Saranno,became the faces of the giver and receiver of an increased minimum wage and its benefits.
Amanda Shelley, a physician assistant and single mom who couldn't get insurance due to a pre-condition, became the face of at least one aspect of the affordable health care act that is working.
And Army Ranger, Cory Remsbug, who was almost killed on his 10th deployment to Afghanistan, blind in one eye with scars from countless surgeries, became the face of courage, hope, fortitude, perseverance and possibilities. My hope is that whatever our political ideology we will have a preferential ability to recognize his face as the face of our collective future.