Hypercharged though the world of politics is, it remains a substantial honor for those of any political stripe to meet someone holding posts such as president, first lady, senator, governor or even mayor.
At least in theory, we hold our elections and live with the results. The reality is while one side wins in a particular race, the opposition never goes away and within an election cycle or two, the other side will prevail.
The peaceful, though more frequently rancorous, transition of civic authority from one side to the other allows our nation to progress largely without the threat of violent insurrection, at least for the past 150 years.
Sometimes, in the heat of political discussions, it is possible to lose sight of a reality of governance that has been true since the earliest times, but came to the forefront only when monarchies with actual power began fading into history. That reality is all emperors, senators, presidents, county council members and home owners association members are people with strengths, weaknesses, personal preferences, sins and virtues.
Having the opportunity to meet leaders, especially in an informal setting, can help bring this in to sharp focus.
A case in point is last week's visit by students, including a contingent from Magnolia Middle School, to the White House vegetable garden for a day with First Lady Michelle Obama. Sure, it absolutely was a contrived event with a political point to make – that kids should be eating more healthy meals and avoiding junk food.
No doubt there will be those who agree with what is essentially a reasonable message. Others will conclude that encouraging heathy eating is little more than another government interference, like laws restricting smoking or requiring the wearing of seat belts or motorcycle helmets.
On another very real level, however, it's fine to argue, debate and write about things, but a little bit of human interaction during a session of gardening, or over a nice meal, goes a long way.
Asked about his experience last week at the White House, Kylah Cain-Ward, of Edgewood, said of Obama: "The First Lady is a very nice person to talk to ...Even though she's very famous, she's like an ordinary woman, and she's very nice and kind."
Party advantage, political agendas and personal preferences aside, we're all only human and we can only do our best to have a positive effect, whether we're a leader of a powerful nation, a middle school student or a voice of the opposition.
The great thing in our country is there are chances every few years to swap out the people in the top spots for other folks who are probably just as personable, even as they hold different views.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun