Obama: The Child of Promise

Story re-orders, sifts through experience, and allows others, young children and adults alike, to hear what we think truly matters. We are constituted by the stories we tell ourselves and others. Thus stories serve an ontological purpose. Story connects us with that which lies beyond ourselves and this process makes us ask questions about the meanings of our lives. It is, in fact, a way we can begin to define what we mean when we use the term "spirituality."

Barbara Kimes Myers
Young Children and Spirituality
I've been reading Dreams of My Father, Obama's first book. It's a book about the stories he pursued, the stories of his life, and the stories of his family. But there's one story that stretches back much further, echoing the dawn of our memories.

Towards the end of the book Obama's grandmother tells the story of their family. It begins with a genealogy, of who begat whom. Then we come to Opuyo, who traveled from a faraway land in Kenya to a land he didn't know. Opuyo sired Obama (first name), who was not the eldest brother, and therefore didn't have land or wealth. He ended up working for another, wealthier family. He worked so hard that the family became very impressed by him, and gave Obama their daughter in marriage.

Obama married others, and built up his lands, so that his son, Onyango, came from a family of means. But at this time the white man was entering the land that would be Kenya. Onyango alone of his village saw the potential of this new world, and left the land of his people to work for the whites in other areas of Kenya, and in other African countries. Though he was often ostracised by his family, Onyango learned the white's ways, and was therefore the first of his village to understand modern life and technology, and used that to his advantage, gaining more wealth and lands. He took many wives, and one son was born Barack Hussein Obama, who had a son by the same name, who later went on to run for President of the United States.

Do these stories sound at all familiar? Consider. Barack Obama's grandma began her story with begats. She then told of Abraham, going to a land that was not his own. Abraham's grandson Jacob was not the eldest son, so he worked for his uncle Laban for many years, and eventually won the right to marry Laban's daughters. Jacob's son Joseph was often ostracised by his family, and went to the foreign land of the Egyptians to learn their ways, becoming a man of great wealth. The similarities are rather eerie.

Sometimes I sit and imagine how God might have appeared to Ipuyo, telling him to go to a new land. He would say that he would bless Ipuyo, if he is willing to take this risk and trust in the Lord, and one day his descendant, a descendant he would never meet, this descendant would become great in a faraway land that Ipuyo had never heard of. Or God might come to Obama (first name) when Obama had no work and no hope. God calls Obama to trust in him, and one day a descendant with his name, his great grandson, would rise to become the most powerful man in the world.

And this descendant would be a child of promise, who would obtain this position as long as he walked in humility and followed the ways of God, using his power to serve others. For in this scenario our candidate becomes not Jesus, but the leader of promise, a King David.

Of course, these conversations with God are solely in my imagination. But Obama's family history shows the power of hope so gloriously, that it is easy to imagine God's hand throughout. It shows how a family can rise from the humblest of beginnings, and how God can work through them in miraculous ways- ways we could never suspect. And it offers us all the lesson, and the hope, that when things are at their most dire, God is still working. We may not see his plan, or even see it work out fully in our lifetime, yet God is still doing something so wondrous we could never imagine it.


On why we want educated voters.

We've all heard the infamous lines from Hillary Clinton. Obama can't win support from "hard-working Americans, white Americans". I've already previously pointed out that Hillary's cries of "elitest" refer to Obama's education, and not his economic background, as he came from a vastly poorer background than nearly every other viable Presidential candidate. Hillary seemed to agree with me, saying, "the whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me". So, the issue is actually education. Let's explore that for a moment.

Don't get me wrong. We should all be equal in America. We should all equally have a vote, regardless of education and intelligence (two very different items). But, don't we think there is some positive aspect to education? Isn't that why we strive for good schools and good teachers? Isn't that why we try to get women educated around the world- that educating women is the best proven method to raise societies and families out of poverty, and provide emancipation for women? I understand that there is a striving in post-modern society to say that any old belief is fine, and therefore education is looked down upon, but one can only go so far before you start denying antibiotic resistance from viral evolution and global warming and have killed every person on the planet in a mass extinction event.

For some mysterious reason, many voters who are uneducated are not voting for Obama. Both he and Hillary are equally educated, the only difference being that Obama has spent more time being poor, being with the poor and uneducated, than Hillary has. (Read his biography.) I don't know why they don't get that- other than Hillary has repeatedly claimed what is opposite of the truth in this matter, and if you say something enough times, no matter how false it is, it becomes truth.

for some reason, those without college degrees are not voting for him. Okay. But why- why does Hillary seem actually proud of this fact? As if this is a good thing? If you have to choose, wouldn't you want the support of the educated voters? Yes, everyone has the right to vote- but that doesn't mean everyone has an equal ability to understand politics and life around them. This, after all, is why we educate our children- so they can better understand life and be prepared for it. If it's not, then we are lying to them, and ourselves. To claim that someone has the right to vote if they are uneducated, and therefore also has an equal ability to a graduate student to comprehend political issues, is as ridiculous as saying we have a right to believe any religious belief we want, therefore evolution and intelligent design should both be taught equally in the classroom.

Equal right does not mean equal abilities. And it seems our society has come to a point where we can no longer distinguish the two. If more uneducated people are voting for you than your opponent, the answer is not to crow in that fact. The answer is to help them get educated.


How Can She Fool Everyone?

Hillary has managed to convince, it seems, the entire nation. Again and again, working class whites are voting for her, because she's one of them. She speaks of not accepting money from large donors. And she has convinced the nation that Obama is an "elitist".

But this is a woman who regularly accepts money from lobbyists, unlike Obama, who everyone acknowledges is the first viable candidate in American history to accept money only from small donors, and never from lobbyists (except as individual contributions).

This is a woman who, with her husband, is worth 100 million. This is not to say Obama is poor- but being worth millions is different from being worth tens of millions. Indeed, Obama is the poorest of all the top Democrat and Republican candidates in the race to date, and got his millions only in the last few years.
I'm not saying Obama is poor, or even close to it. But how does a woman who has 100 times the money get off saying the less wealthy guy is less in touch with the working class?

Perhaps it's their histories. Perhaps one of them grew up poorer, and that's how Hillary is able to say this.

From Wikipedia:

She was raised in a United Methodist family, first in Chicago, and then, from the age of three, in suburban Park Ridge, Illinois.[1] Her father, Hugh Ellsworth Rodham, was a child of Welsh and English immigrants who managed a successful small business in the textile industry.
Not a wealthy lifestyle, to be sure. Not poor either. More...middle class.

How about Obama?

Obama wrote his first book, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, before he was in politics. Lest you get confused, the inheritance he gets has nothing to do with wealth.

He states:

A few months after my twenty-first birthday...the apartment was small, with slanting floors and irregular heat and a buzzer downstairs that didn't work, so that visitors had to call ahead from a pay phone at the corner gas station, where a black Doberman the size of a wolf paced through the night in vigilant patrol, its jaws clamped around an empty beer bottle.
Later Obama shares of growing up in Indonesia, where the family was not the poorest of the poor, for they had their own house- but certainly would be considered poor by American standards. He describes the people around him:

I didn't tell [Grandma] and Grandpa about the face of the man who had come to our door one day with a gaping hole where his nose should have been: the whistling sound he made as he asked my mother for food. Nor did I mention the time that one of my friends told me in the middle of recess that his baby brother had died the night before of an evil spirit brought in by the wind -- the terror that danced in my friend's eyes for the briefest of moments before he let out a strange laugh and punched my arm and broke off into a breathless run. There was the empty look on the faces of farmers the year the rains never came, the stoop in their shoulders as they wandered barefoot through their barren, cracked fields, bending over every so often to crumble earth between their fingers; and their desperation the following year when the rains lasted for over a month, swelling the river and fields until the streets gushed with water and swept as high as my waist and families scrambled to rescue their goats and their hens even as chunks of their huts washed away.

Obama's experiences are not that of a typical American, middle class or even working class. Perhaps some in New Orleans can relate, but for most of us, what he's experienced, what he's seen, is a level of poverty far lower than the poor of America. Obama may be out of touch, not because he is too elite, but because most Americans have experienced and seen less extreme poverty than he has!

And not to take delight in his relative poverty, but if Clinton is going to take out the measuring stick, does she have some sort of comparable experience in poverty when she was also nine years old? Or at any time growing up in suburban Illinois, is there something that would help her more greatly identify with the plight of the poor and working class?

I have no disagreement with the concept that Hillary did not grow up in the upper class. I affirm that she's solidly middle class in upbringing. And Obama is working class, in upbringing. Sadly, in this election, as in all others, we again and again hear about the needs of the middle class, and the working class, who do not vote in as large numbers, get ignored. And so Hillary can get off with saying she is in touch with voters and not elitist, because she grew up middle class.

What about his experiences makes Obama elitist? What could Hillary possibly be referring to?

One gets a sneaky, very disturbing feeling that it's because of where Obama went to school - Harvard (like Hillary's Yale). That's a fairly elitist school. But if so, then what she objects to is when those of the working class pull themselves out of their situation through hard work and education.

Long before this controversy came up, I liked Obama for many reasons. One was that, for the first time in a long time, I felt like here was a candidate who could identify with the situation of the lower class. I'm lower class, and proud to be so. I want a candidate who can understand it. I want a President who understands what it's like to try to make ends meet. I want a President who has a heart for the poor and the disenfranchised. I do not want a candidate who tries to put one over on the lower class, thinking we are all rubes, and will believe her when she says she's in touch with us because she grew up with more money than we're likely to have, and now has tens of millions more money than we'll ever have. I do not want a candidate who will call me elitist because, though I grew up in poverty, I went to a good school. Hillary Clinton, start speaking Truth.