Monday, August 13, 2007

Ubuntu Postscript

Last Tuesday evening, a dessert reception followed President Clinton's address and the Clinton School Class 3 students were all invited to attend. Regarding the possibility of meeting the President, Dean Rutherford had warned us, " never know how it will go. Be prepared." I was already there. Having met the President while he was Governor, I had already experienced falling spellbound into speechlessness (a rare state for me - those of you who know me well can laugh out loud at this revelation) in his presence, and vowed not to be lulled into that state again. I knew I had to prepare something to discuss with him.

As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, I had placed a label with the word Ubuntu on the lapel of my jacket. This word has been given to me as a gift three times in the last three months. A friend who had visited South Africa was the first to teach me the word and it's meaning. The second lesson came from Bishop Kenneth Hicks, leader of my church's Peace and Reconciliation group, who shared with our group the wisdom of South African Bishop Desmond Tutu. I encountered the concept a third time while reading President Clinton's blog in which he writes about his visits to review the Clinton Foundation's work in Malawe on the African continent. Being one of those weirdos who tries to pay attention to patterns, trends and non-logical messages, I felt I had stumbled upon the concept that connected me to the President.

The dessert reception was lovely. The chocolate martinis marvelous. The room was filled with FOBs (Friends of Bill) and us...the Clinton School students. No President. And then, as Dean Rutherford later described it: ' amazing thing happened. The elevator opened and the President appeared. He stayed for over two hours, speaking to everyone there. He remained until the last man standing. Those who came down to the reception and left early...before the President's arrival...have to be sorry...' I know that most, if not all, of my Clinton School classmates were able to talk to the President.

When my turn came, the President noticed my Ubuntu lapel label right away. Yes! My strategy worked!...well, almost. The President told me of an encounter with 10 year old boy in Africa that helped him understand the concept. I hate to admit it, but I was spellbound for a few moments and don't remember all of the details of the story. I did, however, recover to tell him how the word Ubuntu had come into my life, and to remind him of the mother-baby healthcare advocacy work I shared with him and Hillary during the Governor years. The conversation ended with me gushing about my excitement to now be Clinton School student. He responded with a chuckle, a twinkle in his eye, and a "Well, we are very happy to have you!"

OK. So, I kept my wits about me in the President's presence much better than I had in previous encounters, but still lost my concentration for more moments than I had planned. I give myself a 'B+'. Perhaps, during my time at the Clinton School I'll have more opportunities to work on that 'A'. Or perhaps, I should resign myself to reality: the Clinton magic is for real. Resistance is futile.

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