Everyone should know this about me: my two favorite presidents in United States history are Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. It’s arguable that one of these presidents is a result of the other’s actions, but I’ll leave that up for debate.

President Obama gave his farewell speech last night, he spoke about his experience in office, the present, and the future. It was a speech filled with it share of worthy quotes deserving discussion, but I’ll stick to three because that’s the number of the cashier I was directed to yesterday at Trader Joe’s.

The first one to catch my attention was:

But the next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good middle class jobs obsolete.

And so we’re going to have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all our kids the education they need.

Obama clearly hinted at the fact that we are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution and machines are going take work from the middle class sooner rather than later, and follows the hint with a possible solution: education. At one point in the future, the United States will have to make the changes needed to ensure our kids are prepared for the radical industrial changes that are occurring right now, education is key for preparation, but so are other things.

The second quote came after President Obama’s declaration that race relations in this country are better than they’ve ever been in United States history.

If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.

Ah! As if these words weren’t ever more true. As we head into Trump’s presidential era the narratives will continue to shift in order to cloud the wealthy’s gains as they shifted for all previous leaders. We can’t get caught up in those destructive narratives. The only advice I can think of giving right now is to levitate past these distractions and keep trucking toward a solution.

The final quote is a piece of advice from President Obama:

We have to pay attention and listen

I couldn’t agree more. I might not be the best at it, but you know, I’m working on it, especially with those whose views I disagree with the most, but President Obama has asked that we all take the time to pay attention and listen because as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

P.S. Joe Biden is known as Scrappy Kid from Scranton in some circles apparently. You should know that the informal definition of the word scrappy is a top seven in my list for informal definitions of words. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard President Obama say that.

lucas porfiglio is a writer and photographer based in brooklyn

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