Hillary Clinton: Life Lessons from the Benghazi Testimony


Yesterday, when my daughters and I came home after school, I put on the live stream of Hillary Clinton testifying before the Benghazi hearings.

I’m not sure if they were 6, 7 or 8 hours into grilling Hillary Clinton yet, but at that particular moment, a Republican congressman was shouting at her. My girls watched, first with horror and then laughing – who is that man? (Actually, my 11 year old daughter asked “Who is that crazy man?”) As he continued to give his own theory on Hillary Clinton’s actions around Benghazi, my 8th grader, who has done mock trials in Elementary and Middle School, asked if that is how a hearing is supposed to go – are you supposed to make up someone else’s story? Or, are you supposed to ask questions, listen, and gather information, facts?

But it was Hillary’s demeanor – calm, collected, in control – that made the most dramatic impression on my daughters and me.

She listened. She reviewed her notes. She didn’t attack.

She smiled as a panel in front of her berated her with nonsensical questions. She acted like a seasoned world leader.

Here are a few life lessons that my girls and I talked about after the debate:

1. When someone screams at you, don’t respond by screaming back.

Listen calmly, non-emotionally, and gather your thoughts (and notes) before responding. Don’t interrupt someone when they are speaking. Bullies will show their own colors by their actions, and look like fools if you keep your cool.

2. Continue to ask yourself questions.

Hillary Clinton, when accused by the screaming panel, that she had not done enough to protect the people at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi, that she did not care, responded with emotion:

“It’s a very personally painful accusation. It has been rejected and disproven by nonpartisan, dispassionate investigators, but nevertheless, having it continued to be bandied around is deeply distressing to me. You know, I would imagine that I’ve thought far more about what happened than all of you put together. I’ve lost more sleep than all of you put together.”

Hillary Clinton

3. Resilience is something to strive for.

In my kids’ schools there is a lot of talk about teaching resilience in 21st Century learning. When you are attacked, you hold your ground. You do not let failure or challenges stop you from doing what you know you are meant to do. Hillary Clinton is a poster child for resilience and grit for our children.

4. Your power comes from within.

As kids, my father (Deepak Chopra) used to guide my brother and me on certain principles for building up self-esteem. His words echoed in my head as I watched the hearings last night.

“You feel beneath no one nor superior to anyone. You are fearless, immune to criticism and responsive to feedback. You are centered in yourself beyond your self-image. You know who you are, what you want, what your skills are and how you can use them. You are clear about your values and true to yourself.”

Deepak Chopra

5. Do your yoga.

The tirade against Hillary Clinton continued for a good 3-4 hours after we put the television on – she sat through 11 hours of being questioned on things she has already answered. When asked by a reporter, how she kept up her stamina, she laughed, flexed her muscles and said, “Yes. Yes. Yoga always helps.”

6. Vote.

I have been a Hillary Clinton fan for years. Not just because she is a woman, but because she is a powerful, empathetic leader. Like Obama, she is someone who is a role model for my girls to know that they can use their voice and their skills to help others.

Actions are important, and I truly hope my vote helps make her the next President of the United States of America.

Mallika Chopra is the author of
Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy.