At Downstate Medical Center, where I have taught for many years, one of the courses that all first-year medical students have to take is an anatomy class. There they are shown how to cut open and dissect the remains of people who have donated their bodies to science so that students can learn the art of medicine. However, in that anatomy lab, little or no attention is paid to the spirit of that once-living soul. I believe that this experience could be more rewarding if a course in human spirituality was also presented at the same time. Students who are studying to become physicians are taking, as President Obama would say, a “shellacking.”
Recently, after the midterm elections were tallied, President Obama stated that he had taken a shellacking. By this I think he meant that running the U.S. government had turned out to be different from his dream of being the nation’s leader. The press took up the word shellacking and presented in pictures and words that the President had been defeated in what he wanted to accomplish.
Watching and hearing this scenario in the media, I decided that I would have to dissect the word shellacking in order to improve upon his image. When the word shellacking is broken down, we wind up with two smaller words: “shell” and “lacking.”
President Obama’s shell is filled with magnificent achievements. It is not lacking. Just consider the contents of his life’s shell:

1961—born in Hawaii to Ann Dunham, PhD, and Barack Obama, Sr., a native Kenyan and Harvard graduate
1967—attends school in Indonesia. (He is still able to speak the language today.)
1971—returns to Hawaii and enrolls at Punahou School
1979—enters Occidental College in Los Angeles
1981—enters Columbia University in New York, graduating with a degree in political science
1985-88—visits Kenya and later enters Harvard Law School
1990—becomes the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review and graduates from law school with honors
1992—while working as an attorney in Chicago, meets and marries Michelle and chooses to worship at Trinity United Church of Christ, asserting his Christianity
1995—publishes Dreams from My Father; his mother dies of ovarian cancer
1996—wins election to the Illinois State Senate, where he serves for seven years
1999—his first daughter, Malia, is born
2000—runs for U.S. Representative from Illinois, and loses
2001—his second daughter, Natasha, is born
2004—elected U.S. Senator from Illinois and receives overwhelming applause for his speech at the Democratic Convention
2005—receives Fight for Freedom Award from the NAACP
2006—publishes The Audacity of Hope, which becomes a N.Y. Times bestseller
2007—announces his run for President.
2008—wins Iowa caucus and South Carolina primary; continues winning primaries and caucuses in 31 more states and territories
2008—gains the Democratic nomination and wins the election
2009—inaugurated as the 44th U.S. President and the first African American to achieve this goal

Later in 2009, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I wrote the following poem in homage to President Obama, who has demonstrated that he is not lacking in ability to serve and keep the United States a blessed nation among nations:

The Blessed Nobelist

May God bless you
President Barack Obama
May Allah protect you
The Blessed Nobelist
Connected to the continent
That brought forth
The creation of the human race
Your noble thoughts and works
Will bring the healing of Jesus
To all mankind and nations

On Independence Day, July 4, 2009, I dedicated the following poem in his honor:


God looked down on
Creating a nation just for
Red, White, Black, Yellow and Brown are
Therefore, we all live in that
Without us, can’t be
God bless

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