On the Farewell Address

USA Today

“I don’t think anyone realizes how powerful apathy is until they see the outcome of it,” Ryan, Zambezi’s Group Strategy Director, mused over coffee. “That’s what Obama was saying, I think.”

And indeed it was hard, at the end of the speech, to feel like apathy is an option—regardless of political or cultural affiliation.

At the center of President Obama’s farewell address last night was a call to action, a reminder that it is not just the responsibility but the pleasure and privilege of the American electorate to participate in our democracy’s development. Not just to “Show up,” but to engage. To debate, to organize, to run. A reminder of our power.

Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

This morning we’re thinking about the “office of citizenship” that we all share and the ways that we can fill it in our capacities as advertisers, writers, artists, and thinkers, how we tell a story of American togetherness and solidarity, and how we embrace a culture and a nation in a constant state of change without shying away from our role in changing it.

Not a bad way to start a mid-week morning.

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