>Influencing people

>1.) President Obama

The president gave his State of the Union speech last night, and despite the third grade seating arrangement and the anticipated followup by the divided Republican Tea Party, the message from the president was loud and clear:

We can win the future

He called our current place in time “our Sputnik moment.”

That means we need to quit lollygagging and get to work. China is pulling ahead in education, energy, infrastructure and more. We can catch up and pass them, like we did the Russians after they put Sputnik into space. We must.

He stressed the importance of education.

“We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the super bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.”

He urged increasing math and science teacher training and urged a redo of the failed and unfunded No Child Left Behind act.

A CBS poll reveals that 91% of those who watched the president approved of the speech.

A CNN poll indicates that prior to the speech 61% of respondents thought that Obama will move the country in the right direction. After the speech that increased to 77%.

You can watch the entire speech, with enhancements (charts, graphs, etc.).

2.) Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates plays an attorney in “Harry’s Law” who is changing careers going from a highly paid patent attorney to a “poor but changing neighborhood” criminal attorney. In this week’s episode, she represented an elderly black woman accused of armed robbery.

In her closing statement she made a great case for a change in attitude about how we care for the poor, including a statement about Health Care Reform.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/t0INia4OQK0ZjFBKGFzRNw/2060/2282/i2262

Watch the entire episode here.

3.) Oprah Winfrey

And Oprah had Gay Day yesterday on her show. 25 years of coming out stories. This was the promo.

Oprah does a great job of influencing public opinion, and her show yesterday confirmed that. One of her guests was an Indian prince who came out on her show years ago, was disowned by his mother, but the event began a change in India and more acceptance for gays in that country.

One of her guests, Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, came out and wrote a book in 1995. He was a huge influence on my decision to accept who I am, which I did later that year.

I met Greg at the Books-a-Million in Hoover and got his book, Breaking the Surface, signed. I also wrote a letter to him, and had received a postcard back, but the words he wrote in my book planted the idea in my head.

Believe in yourself!

He could probably tell I was a troubled, closeted gay man. I can sometimes recognize that trait in people now. He wrote just enough to get me started, and I am so thankful.

So President Obama, Kathy Bates, and Oprah Winfrey (and Greg Louganis); thank you for the messages that you send. You are making a difference in people’s lives and attitudes and beliefs.

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