I have to admit that I was never one who jumped on the Oprah Winfrey bandwagon. Mostly I thought of her as just another talk show host in a myriad of talk shows although I did admire her work in the field of education. After watching some of her farewell programs, I was impressed by the scholarship contributions she made to Morehouse College, by building a school in Africa for young women and for making reading fashionable. Her commitment to education is undeniable and for that I do applaud her.
But in watching some of the recent fanfare at the United Center, it occurred to me that Oprah was not revolutionary, unique or even new. Her aura is entirely rooted in taking that wonderous journey down the yellow brick road. Although she has given millions to help educate black men, if they did not believe in education or do the work to get educated her money would have been wasted. And although she provided the bricks and mortar and perhaps even the inspiration for young girls in Africa to get an education, if they did not want it and work for it all that would be left are the bricks and mortar etched with a celebrity’s name on them. And yes, maybe she provided the star power to pick up a book, but each individual was responsible for reading it and learning from it.
What I think I admire Oprah for the most is for understanding, believing and reenforcing the basic message in the movie The Wizard of Oz. At the end of the movie when the Wizard mistakenly takes off in his balloon and Dorothy is left for a moment to wonder if she will ever get back to Kansas she is once again visited by Glinda the Good Witch of the North. Glinda delivers the most powerful message in the movie when she informs Dorothy that “you had the power to go back to Kansas all along.” I remember the very first time I heard her say those words – I was actually mad that she had put Dorothy through all of the situations she had to go through in Oz. If she had the power all along, why didn’t she just tell her. It wasn’t till much later that I understood exactly why Glinda did what she did and what Oprah has tried to make millions understand for many years. The power is within you – but you have to learn that for yourself.
That seems like such a basic concept and yet it is one that is missed by many. Many people lead a victim’s life putting blame on everything and everyone for who they are and what they have become. They never got it – they never went to Oz. If they had gone to Oz and had to follow the path of the yellow brick road they would know they have the power – that everyone has the power. It’s just that some get is and use it and other’s don’t and probably never will. It is a life lesson that has to be learned and believed. You cannot simply put on the ruby slippers and have the wisdom. Glinda was wise to allow Dorothy to learn this powerful message because once you learn it and believe it, the power affects the rest of your life for the better.
Throughout my entire life I have been mesmerized by the messages in the Wizard of Oz. But bar none, Glinda’s message is perhaps the most important. You have the power, it has always been within you. You can use it or not. The choice is entirely up to you!
And after that, the next most powerful message: There Is No Place Like Home!