Barak Obama’s shining moment in the State of the Union debate, and possibly the only memorable moment for the public, was his insistent call for a vote on gun legislation. His tactic — repeating how those affected by gun violence “deserve a vote” — emerged out of necessity and sagacity. Here are two quick lessons that we can learn from the address:
Necessity. Polarization (whether in the workplace, home, or church) prohibits meaningful dialogue, and those who sincerely want change will seek to build consensus. While some will critique Obama’s mention of real-life victims for emotional effect, the point is that real-life issues require a response rather than no response at all.
Sagacity. Effective leadership calls people beyond where they, but never beyond what than they can handle. Our violent-ridden and blood-infatuated society does not want to deal with the deeper issues at hand, but certainly all reasonable people can agree to vote. After all, if you can’t vote, what are you afraid of? Using subtly for effect, understatement attempts to move people toward a response.
Apart from politics, all of us can learn from the rhetoric used in Obama’s fifth State of the Union address. Whether you are a leader, a parent, an overseer, or a preacher, the 2013 SOTU should remind us of the need for consensus and the brilliance of understatement.