Barack Obama has taken the reins, he is behind the wheel, with a delicate foot on the gas pedal. The American family Mini Van is on a new journey. With President-Elect Obama at the wheel, Rahm Emanuel riding shotgun, and the back of the van is loaded with the children of an American President.
This is a big family so the van has three rows of seats. In the first seat behind the driver there sits a CEO, a Union Boss, and an Army General. The second row seats a Hispanic immigrant, a pregnant teen, and a working mother. The third row is in chaos with a Catholic, a white baptist, and a black baptist. Everyone is shouting, “Are we there yet?”
All of the children were accidental – none of them were planned and none of them were aborted. The family is what it is. And no child will be left behind.
So what is a child? How do we think about children? Children are charming, charismatic, funny, innocent, happy. Each has a unique personality – none better or worse than another. And they each have their own destination. Some play soccer, some basketball, some volleyball (hockey is not allowed). Some like education with some excelling in science and math. Others think education is a bore – and particularly reject the idea of science. Some prefer the superstition of religion, some think in practical terms of cost benefit.
None of them are right or wrong. They are who they are – and this is what makes the family so much fun on the holidays.
But the holiday season will end on January 20, 2009. President Elect Obama has listened to each of the children and believes he understands their variety of needs and wants. Obama has told Rahm Emanuel where he wants to go – the destination he believes is best for each of his brood of children. The Mini Van is not fuel efficient so the trip will have to be well planned. Rahm is checking his map, charting a course, maximizing time, minimizing distance.
“Are we there yet?” The Van is not yet out of the garage and the children are complaining. The CEO, Union Boss, and Army General are leaning forward – speaking directly to the driver. Each of them is afraid the other will get to their destination first. The adolescent power struggle is on.
The back seat is in chaos with the Catholics and baptists arguing over the bottled water. They will ride the van for eternity rather than give up their right to sprinkle the water or to immerse themselves. Their noise is a mere distraction to the driver. Toddlers are like that.
The middle seat, like all middle children, feels ignored. The immigrant, the pregnant teen, and the working mother know they are not priorities. They wish for an audience with the parent – but they recognize their place in the world. And they quietly acquiesce to the adolescents in the front row.
The highways are full of pot holes, some bridges are near collapse, and the traffic lights are not synchronized. The family rides through the neighborhoods of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Waters are rising from ice melts in the arctics, threatening the unstable bridges of humanity’s highways.
The driver is steady. He checks the map, and nods his approval. Yes, he says, I think we can get everyone to their destination on time.