Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, famously said in a 2016 speech in response to those who spoke negatively about her husband President Barack Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, "When they go low, We go high."
Obama sat down for an exclusive interview with Blavity and expanded on her remarks, reminding folks they do not need to lower their standards even when the fight is vitally important.
"I absolutely still believe that we've got to go high ― always and without exception. It's the only way we can keep our dignity. Because if we lose our dignity, what do we have left?
When someone's trying to pull you down into the mud, it takes a lot less effort to give in and join them in the muck than to keep yourself upright, standing tall. If you allow yourself to play on their terms, they win. It's what they want you to do. You can't give them the satisfaction."
Obama, whose new memoir Becoming hits stores November 16, went on to explain it isn't always easy to take the high road, but doing so determines the kind of person you want to be.
Now, going high doesn't mean giving up or ignoring reality. It doesn't mean you shy away from the fight or weaken your principles. It means you lead with your whole heart and your whole soul — your whole value system — and not just whatever happens to be your stance on a given issue. Going high isn't just about the fight you want to win, but it's also about the person you want to be — and the kind of country you want to have.
What Barack and I have always tried to do is this: When the haters come our way, we don't let them distract us from our purpose. We brush them off when we can, and we deal with them when we need to. But we never lose sight of our goal. We never stop working. And we never stop trying to set a good example for the next generation — not just for our two daughters but everyone's kids. Do we want the next generation to be angry? Do we want them to be spiteful and petty? Or do we want them to live by the values that our parents taught us — values like honesty and generosity and respect?
I think the answer is easy enough. And it's an answer that always applies, not just when it's easy.
Obama has been encouraging all those who can to get out and vote.
Tomorrow, whether you're a first-time voter or you've been voting your whole life, your community—and our country—n… https://t.co/q5GHYnP1II— Michelle Obama (@Michelle Obama) 1541435940.0
The people still love the former FLOTUS.
@MichelleObama Thank you for encouraging people to vote and not using partisan fearmongering to tell them how to vo… https://t.co/FhhIca7KNE— Captain America's Shieldmaiden (@Captain America's Shieldmaiden) 1541436026.0
@MichelleObama Thank you my FOREVER First Lady.@MichelleObama 🙌🏿❤️Miss you! When they go low WE GO VOTE!… https://t.co/XVUW38njjt— PG™💋🏈🎃🇺🇸 ♡Marilyn Monroe♡ (@PG™💋🏈🎃🇺🇸 ♡Marilyn Monroe♡) 1541441836.0
@MichelleObama @Raluca_Florea Do you and your honorable, intelligent, sane, compassionate, inspirational, ethical,… https://t.co/ClewtexHra— Dee Giles (@Dee Giles) 1541453411.0
@MichelleObama @Btysheen Yes, ma'am. Such a beautiful woman. Glad you brought such grounded-ness and compassion… https://t.co/BXZKL3k1Ez— Russell Anderson (@Russell Anderson) 1541441843.0
And her message was reaching folks.
@HuffPost @DrGJackBrown Beautifully said and represents the country I want.— Susan Hoskins (@Susan Hoskins) 1541458236.0
@HuffPost Yes. Let us all try to do exactly this.— Juan Pelota (@Juan Pelota) 1541454975.0
Fight the good fight by using your vote.