The First Lady and the Queen

“First Lady, First Lady, where have you been?”
“I have been to London to see the Queen”
“First Lady, First Lady, what did you there?”
“I got to hug the Queen . . . but she hugged me first!”

And so the old nursery rhyme has been re—written in 2009. So the old tired traditions make way for the new acts of our common humanity. In one symbolic act of a mutual hug, the First Lady of the U.S., Mrs. Michelle Obama, in support of her husband, set the tone for the change of guards in U.S. relations to and with the rest of the world. As I reread President Obama’s Inauguration Speech, it strikes me how quickly this young couple is living out every bit of what some had written off as poetry and rhetoric in President Obama’s speech. And not only are the Obamas leading the way, they are taking all the willing-hearted with them, including the Queen of England!

Yet, it equally strikes me how so many people, especially here at home in the U.S., are still not getting it: from their tired and jaded criticisms of “The First Lady broke protocol” to “You just can’t touch the Queen” to “It’s never done.” Blah, blah, blah. As the President rightly forecast about these critics and predicted in his inaugural speech, “. . . the ground has shifted beneath them . . .” and they still are not aware of it.
Didn’t our Lord Jesus say it that the prophet is hardly accepted among his/her own? Yes, as strange and unpredictable as it is, the first Black President and First Lady are taking the world by storm, rebuilding bridges, fortifying goodwill for us abroad, shoring up and sealing economic deals . . . . The votes are still coming in. Who could have predicted five, ten years ago that it would take such an unusual couple to bring America to its new frontiers, to cause the Queen of England to break centuries-old tradition, to pass the huge but necessary stimulus bill, to funnel the largest sum of federal money ever to assist our flailing schools? The boldness and the audacity of hope being actualized in our times!
The skeptics just need to get it and get it clearly: the ground has indeed shifted. Pundits, newsmakers, media, please listen up and flow with the change. It’s here and you might as well report it with clarity of voice; otherwise, you will soon be overrun by new voices from equally unexpected corners. Jim Wallis recently made a similar assertion when he proclaimed Jon Stewart’s run with Cramer as a Sunday school lesson: a comedian speaking the truth from an unusual pulpit (
Our challenge now is to open up avenues for the voices of the spirit of change to supersede the old weary ones in every facet of our common humanity.
Thank you, Mrs. Obama, for hugging the Queen back with much love, sincerity, grace, and confidence. It was indeed an example of how our “common humanity” is being revealed, one bold step at a time.

“. . . we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”( President Barack H. Obama, Inaugural Speech, January 20, 2009)


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