I am a lover of words- words that weave together a cadence of light, music to our hearts and "dopamine" ahas for our mind.
I am always drawn by the magnetism of words at the intersection of all three. The genius words of Sarah Hurwitz baked in the spell binding speech delivered by Michelle Obama last week is a true testament to great content.
Here is my analysis on my why.
1) Emotive Imagery
Great words can advocate a cause. On the other hand, outstanding words across the ages have one thing in common - the feelings and images they evoke that linger through the ages outliving their cause.
As I reflect back on this speech, away from the context or message, the resounding images were
The faces of two young girls pressed up against the glass window as they were driven to school in black SUV accompanied by bodyguards.
Two girls playing in the green lawns of the white house with their dog.
That in essence sums up the longevity of Sarah Hurwitz's content. The emotional imagery in the small, powerful details is out of the charts. We can all relate to kids in cars and playing in a lawn. We can extrapolate to visualize them in unusual settings for us - presidential cars and lawns. In all this, it was in the voice of a mother, through the eyes of her children. Just brilliant.
2) Words match the message: Showing the other cheek.
In a scene in the movie Gandhi, during the early days in South Africa, Gandhi shares a famous line when he crosses path with adversaries on a road - "If the enemy strikes you on the right cheek, offer him your left." The act of defiance lies in the act of stepping up to show the other cheek. Sarah Hurwitz words were laden with this act of defiance - the opponent was named by implication, without uttering his name once.
It is one thing to have a powerful message - "when they go low, we go high." It is a whole different playing field when the same content has a living proof.
Her piercing words of implication without naming the opponent precisely did that. I was astounded by the congruence of content with the message. It was dignified and devastating at the same time.
It did something more - It surprised many in the world for singular lack of twitter retort from the opponent. That did not surprise me. The intent of showing the other cheek is to bring the best of humanity on the other side.
When the world baits opponents with their weakness [to combat and dominate in this case], this speech showed defiance and yet took it to a higher plane of human interactions. It brought the best in the opponent - an appreciation for Sarah's words that were truly beautiful.
3) My aha
As a parent of two young girls, I am always looking for examples of "when a woman is thrust into a spotlight." Deep in my heart, that was my propelling reason to hear Michelle Obama speak. I am glad I was curious - it brought me an unexpected gift, my own aha as a parent -
"when we go to the polls, that is what we are deciding. Not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. In this election and every election, it is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives."
These words connected the dots on a subtle message. All along I had looked at elections as what we want for our future, centered on self. My aha was keeping children at the vortex and parents orbiting around them. The common bonds for many of us are our children - across generations and across nations.
Just like my middle class parents from India, lot of things we do in daily life as parents is around that theme- It is more than what we want for our future, it is what future we want for our kids. Until that moment in the speech, it never occurred to me to connect it to elections.
4) Why this speech truly elevates
You surround yourself in the aura of positive words, not because you are naïve, it is because you believe in surging ahead. The human mind is a funny thing. It is more malleable than we can ever conjecture. We can consciously build safeguards to filter thoughts. My instinct is that something almost always oozes from the sides of the safeguards, unconsciously into our consciousness. The way I hear it - it is in my own self-interest to choose the energy around my ears.
In that sense, the positive language and optimism in Sarah's words were inspirational, deep rooted in emotion, incandescent and raw. Michelle Obama's passionate and authentic delivery amplified this gem of rhetoric - 14+ minute capsule of bliss.
They say content is king. By far, Sarah was the queen of all words I surveyed the last few weeks. A true obeisance to her gifts -crafting words, structuring her composition and above all, content dripping with all-round class. Long live the Queen.
In closing, in the eyes of my daughter
This speech would likely enter the pantheons of great speeches. Yet, for me, it would be deeply personal. While watching the speech live, I turned around to my 7 year old daughter seated next to me on the couch and said, "here is an example of a great speech." That chance to show rather than tell is a dream of an opportunity for any parent. I grasped it with gusto and gently guided my daughter to absorb exceptional, positive words laced with emotion.
That image of my young daughter, at an impressionable age, intently listening to every word is my defining moment and lingering memory of Sarah Hurwitz's words. What more can a parent ask for?
P.S. The universal resonance this speech garnered and the perfect garland of words propelled me. I want to be explicit - this is apolitical. Above all else, this blog is a tribute to the woman behind the pen and behind the scenes who wrote those powerful words for the ages.