Obama has 3 powerful messages for anyone concerned with the state of America.

Barack Obama is speaking out about the future, and it is coming at a time when we definitely need to hear it.

In addressing what's now going on in the world at a Democratic fundraiser on June 28, Obama had painful and hopeful words about the road to progress in America. Here are the three main messages he wants Americans to focus on:

1. Don't wait.

Obama gets that people are worn down and frustrated. "You're right to be concerned," he said. But it's also up to us to carve out a better future.


"Do not wait for the perfect message; don't wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you're expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, 'OK, I'll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote,'" Obama said. "Because that's part of what happened in the last election. I heard that too much."

2. Fear is powerful.

Obama made clear that while recent elections have certainly provided some relief, it's only the beginning. Fear can be a powerful tool that galvanizes a population.

"Telling people that somebody's out to get you or somebody took your job or somebody has it out for you or is going to change you or your community or your way of life," Obama advised, "that's an old story, and it has shown itself to be powerful in societies all around the world. It is a deliberate, systematic effort to tap into that part of our brain that carries fear in it. There's a fundamental contrast of how we view the world. We are seeing the consequences of when one vision is realized or in charge."

It's imperative to not give into that fear. Instead, we should recognize it for what it is and use it as a lightning rod to spur change.

3. Vote.

If there's one thing every one of us can do right now, it's making sure that our voices are heard in upcoming elections. That means getting registered, being informed, and voting in both local and national elections.

“I am not surprised," Obama noted, "that instead of replacing what we had done with something better, they just have done their best to undermine and erode what's already in place. ... You should go out and vote.”

"Boil it down," he added. "If we don't vote, this democracy doesn't work."

It's up to us to to create the future we want.

His words are tough but true if we want to create a better, more equitable future. Consider one thing you can do today to move the needle of progress forward. Call your reps, stand up for what you know to be right when the current administration gets it wrong, and don't lose heart — because November is coming.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less