in his third book a promised land obama recounts his story from his childhood to the spring of 2011 well into the first term of his presidency.
in a total of 701 page.
if that sounds long, it is. it is a really long book.
and that’s a good thing, because let me tell you, obama is one gifted storyteller.
with funny anecdotes, poignant descriptions and a fluid prose, he turned american and international politics into something like a thriller.
but kid you not, even though large parts of a promised land have a novel-like quality with complete dialogues and suspenseful build-ups, it is not a beach read.
with sentences that could compete with marcel proust’s and the kind of extensive vocabulary only avid intellectuals really master, this book commands your focus and rewards you for it on every page.
a fellow idealist
however, what resonated most with me, was something a lot more personal.
there comes the time in the life of every idealist when they realise that they are different.
no matter how much other people might agree with them in theory or principle, they will at some point urge idealists to compromise, tell them (or make them feel) like their dreams and ideas are too big and so out of reach that they appear almost childish.
a time when idealists are misunderstood and called too stubborn for not wanting to give up, to give in or to settle.
when they start to feel very lonely because quite frankly they don’t know any other way to be.
or at least that’s how i feel sometimes with my idealism.
and it is most definitely why reading a promised land was such a relief for me.
because i recognised in obama a fellow idealist!
a source of inspiration
now, just to be clear, there’s no way that i think that my lived experience even remotely resembles obama’s or that i could even come close to his brilliance.
yet, he and his story inspire me.
he stands for something and he always has.
he never compromised his integrity.
despite the odds.
despite the harshness of reality.
despite the availability of easier options.
and in the times we live in that is so rare, so unique.
and a showcase of resilience
and like probably any other person under the sun, he too failed.
but not only did he never give up, he managed to not let these setback turn him into a bitter person.
or alter his ways. or narrow his views.
on the contrary, that’s when he most focussed on a common humanity in people. he rallied, explained, and tried to bring everybody closer together.
when he stood by what he knew was true, by what he knew was the best for people without regard to him, his feelings or his legacy.
he managed to be bigger than all of the noise and he rose above.
unapologetically his authentic, caring self.
and that’s where his way of doing things became downright motivational.
in my opinion it’s where his real power comes from, it’s what made him an icon and a true leader.