Prince Harry interview with Barack Obama
I have written some of my thoughts on the fascinating interview that President Obama conducted with Prince Harry. I hope you find it helpful and inspiring.
In case you missed this powerful and positive programme over the Christmas holidays, the first interview that Barack Obama has given since handing over the reins as POTUS was broadcast on our outstanding BBC Radio 4.
He was interviewed brilliantly by none other than Prince Harry – providing what is an inspiring, encouraging and challenging reflection, with a focus on how we can support the millennial generation as they seek to shape and change their world.
If you can’t access the podcast, or haven’t time to listen to it in full, I’ve written up my ‘takeaways’ for you. There is a message to all of us here for 2018 – and a potential school assembly topic! The full podcast is available below
- Future focus on the next generation – Barack Obama has a passionate mission for the future to ensure that: ‘Kids get a decent education, people get a decent living wage, that we’re conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place like we did.’
- But putting his family first – When Prince Harry asked what was going through his mind at the inauguration of Donald Trump a year ago, he says that: ‘the first thing I thought of was Michelle.’ He was most proud: ‘for us to be able to come out of this intact.. and still each other’s best friends with our daughters turning into amazing young women.’ He adds that personally, ‘there is a sense of completion in the work that we have done… that protected our integrity.’ He says: ‘fundamentally the fact that we hadn’t changed was a satisfying feeling.’
- While running a good race – He views his eight years as President as a relay runner. There is a ‘sense that we had run a good race… if you run hard, do your best and the world is a little bit better off, then I can take some pride in that’.
- And maintaining balance in leadership – He didn’t let his position or power go to his head. Obama explains that ‘by the time I was elevated to the Senate, I had a family and we knew who we were and what we believed in…there was a continuity there. I didn’t feel my identity needed to get wrapped up in having had this position’. Because he maintained a relationship with his family and friends, and preserved the values he cares about, ‘the break did not feel as abrupt’.
- Coaching the next generation – Obama explains that he is now able to focus on long term problems and solutions to issues such as climate change. He is spending his time in ‘helping young people to lead’ and providing them a ‘platform to give them a voice… and go out and change the world. They will make mistakes, they are not perfect. But they have an energy and spirit that cannot be duplicated by older people.’
- Believing in the next generation – His view is that: ‘this generation coming up is the most sophisticated, most tolerant, most embracing of diversity, the most tech savvy and the most entrepreneurial’. But he is encouraging them to move off line. ‘Social media is a really powerful tool to connect, but it is really important to meet in a pub, at a place of worship, in a neighbourhood and get to know each other. Because on the internet, everything is simplified. And when you meet people face to face it turns out that people are complicated… and you find areas of common ground. Sending out a hashtag, isn’t a way of bringing about change.’
- Get involved, the world’s problems can be solved – Obama explains that: ‘If we participate, engage, speak out, volunteer, we see the joy that comes from service to others. All the problems we face are solvable. He reassures that: ‘despite all the genuine pain and hardship that people are feeling… the world is healthier, wealthier, more sophisticated and less violent place than any time in human history. And it was only a few generations ago in the US, when someone who looked like me couldn’t imagine having this conversation.’
- Message for 2018: Obama apparently doesn’t make New Year resolutions, but of 2018 he encourages: ‘When you think about the strides that we have made in my lifetime and how much has got better, this has to make you optimistic.’ He believes that the world can get better: ‘…as long as we don’t sit back passively – it requires us to continually push. Each day we must try and do a little better than we did before’.
As educationalists, let’s encourage and support the future generations in our schools and universities as they seek ways to bring about change, and together we can make our communities… and our world a better place.
What a positive message to begin 2018!