Stanley Ann Dunham.
She had a dream, too. It came true.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again, Thank you Stanley Anne Dunham for teaching your son.
If you don’t know who she is, well, click here.
If you think that a mother’s example has no effect on a son, well, then click here.
She never held a gun in battle, nor wore a soldier’s uniform, but I see her as the type of quiet hero that makes this life worth living. She was an example of how personal evolution can elevate the human spirit until we are able to see others in ourselves, and ourselves in others.
Anthropology is the study of humanity. She was an anthropoligist by profession, as well as by temperment. Change starts at home. This change started at Stanley Anne Dunham’s multiple homes.
An example of her influence is provided by her own daughter. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack’s sister, was videotaped talking to a group of volunteers in her home early in the campaign. If you watch it you'll be able to hear the joy and warm sense of humor in her voice as she talks about her mom and her brother.
As I listened to Obama's sister explain why naming her own daughter was in tribute to her mom's personality, I wondered if maybe President Obama is a "lunatic" after all.
It was sort of paying homage to our mother who loved the moon. She used to say she was a lunatic. She would drag me out in the middle of the night to go look at the moon when it was particularly full or lovely. She passed away in 1995, & so she can’t be here to witness all of this.
You can teach by lecturing, but you can also teach by example.
She was a remarkable woman. She lived all over South & South East Asia. She was very brave, and had this ability to push away boundaries.
In 1965 Indonesia was going through a very tumultuous time politically...She came across all these unmarked graveyards because the streets had been filled with blood. It was sort of like the 1950s: there was this big anti-communist witch hunt in Indonesia. People were being killed right and left...she didn’t know what had happened...She found out, and it could’ve been very frightening, but instead of being frightened, what she felt was compassion. What she felt was a desire to sort of help make things whole.
Seeing the horrors of war didn't make her run back home to Hawaii or Kansas. It led to her working for change in the lives of the marginalized, especially women.
She ended up living her entire life in Indonesia. And then in India and Pakistan and in other places. And in New York working for organizations like women world's banking, the people’s...bank of Indonesia, world banks and Ford foundation.
She did primarily micro financing, rural banking programs to help women in cottage industries who didn’t have enough autonomy in their own lives. Not enough freedom over making decisions about the lives of their children, and not enough security to ensure they would have a roof over their heads. So, she worked with them instead of being afraid.
Stanley Anne Dunham's ability to weave her live into the fabrics of different cultures has had lasting effect.
She ended up doing so much good all over the world, and everywhere she went she sort of made a home for herself which, I think, is very very brave. I think it is to a great extent why Barack has the capacity to move through his world, so effortlessly, so gracefully....and to sort of recognize the common humanity in other people and work to make that connection and to listen hard.
Where did the son of such a woman learn to be able to sit down with political enemies, and eventually turn them into allies?
And always with the assumption the other person has something valuable to offer. I think he would credit her. I think he has credited her with a lot of that. She had more empathy than anybody I've ever met. He talks a lot of closing the empathy gap.
Why on Inauguration Day is it important to recall Stanley Anne Dunham?
I, and apparently Barack's sister, believe his mother is the person that provided the foundations for his moral compass, his empathy, and his conscience. That is not to say that he always follows his own moral compass, or that it is set merely with his mother's ideals. It doesn't say what he will do tomorrow, or if he will be successful. It does, however, help us understand where he is trying to go. Or, at least, where he is coming from.
Yes, I see the ghosts of those who came before. I see the slaves who perished here, the ones who escaped, and the good Americans who helped them in underground railways. I see all the women who fought for decades for the right to vote. I see all the people who were beaten & died fighting for the creation of unions, or in protection of their civil rights. On this day, I also see a new ghost over our country’s capitol. A free spirit, Anne Stanley Dunham, looks down and wraps her arms around all of us Bush-battered souls. Or, maybe, I'm just confusing her with my own mom. I’m not ashamed to say that, not this day.
This is America’s day. Anne, especially, this day’s for you.
Update: some conspiratorial group of mothers put this up on the rec list. I guess there's a first time for everything today. Thanks, mom.