Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Wisdom of Obama

I first became aware of Barack Obama, like many Americans, when he spoke at the Democratic convention in 2004. My neighbor at the time recently reminded me how electrified I was by this young senate candidate.

I just read the following in The New Yorker:

“It is, then, not surprising that when it was proposed that America should invade Iraq with the goal of establishing democracy there, Obama knew that it would be a terrible mistake. This was American innocence at its most destructive, freedom at its most deceptive, universalism at its most na├»ve. 'There was a dangerous innocence to thinking that we would be greeted as liberators, or that with a little bit of economic assistance and democratic training you’d have a Jeffersonian democracy blooming in the desert,' he says now."

That is an excerpt from “The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama coming from?” by Larissa MacFarquhar. It was published May 7, 2007.

That excerpt and the whole article hit home for me in many ways. First, on Iraq, I’ve come to the same conclusions as Obama after initially supporting the war. I believe now that that support of mine was idealistic, misguided, and frankly delusional.

But the quote, and other parts of the article, refers to something in my own life that is troubling. From all outward appearances I’ve been rootless. I had what Obama’s parents apparently had, a wanderlust that has left me refusing to stay in one place.

Though I love to travel, that wanderlust has manifested itself in a way that is contrary to things I’ve always believed in. To this day I love the place where I grew up. I never considered staying though because of what I perceived as the non-existent economic opportunities. So I headed out into the world from Ohio, determined to make something of myself.

I am deeply rooted in America and I am lucky to have good friends all over this great country.