For most people, receiving a title as an act of recognition of their contribution to the public is undoubtedly welcomed with pride. A showcase of true character, emphasis on accomplishment or simply a matter of courtesy, titles have been embraced through the ages.
Today, though, it was not about flattery. The title that President Obama awarded to all of us hit home not only because I am Greek, but mostly because we all deserve it as a lifelong validation for what we have accomplished as residents of this world.
“The most important title is Citizen.” – Barack Obama
At his speech in Athens, President Obama was clear. Citizens and not politicians are the guardians of democracy. Politicians are elected by the public and if anyone takes that power away there will be no president or cabinet.
Having my identity as a citizen validated in this manner is a reminder of all that our ancestors fought for. Women’s suffrage, rule of the many over dictatorships, reclaim of homeland are only broad examples of cases where true courage has been demonstrated to secure a future for the younger ones.
Undoubtedly, President Obama is a great public speaker. His natural charisma and talent have been cultivated through his studies and experience, but it is something more that makes this particular speech to stand out of all his talks so far. It humanity’s need for validation at a time that politics across the globe challenge even the brightest.
At a time where Trump is about to move in the White House, Le Pen campaigns in France and Britain is standing at the doorstep of Europe, we all need to hear that our contribution to this world as citizens is still valid. As it was underlined today, all flaws and mistakes can be corrected through the process of democracy, something that I really hope that will happen soon after a sincere reflection of this year’s actions on a global scale.
I’m not going to lie, even though I am a devoted optimist, the following years will be particularly difficult. Whether we admit it or not, the President of the United States plays a significant role in global politics and I am not happy with Wednesday’s outcome.
But today, President Obama reminded us something that can easily be forgotten. The fact that progress follows a winding path, sometimes forward, sometimes back. As long as we retain our faith in democracy and the people and we don’t waiver away from those certain principles that form a lively open debate, our future will be ok because democracy remains the most effective form of government ever devised by man.
With all my heart, I am hoping that in the coming years we will all honour our title as Citizens and that we will work together towards making progress instead of taking further steps backwards. Like President Obama, I still believe in us!