Skip to main content

Barack Obama: A Sad Tale of Squandered Greatness

This past Saturday Renee and I watched Invictus. Invictus was a movie directed by Clint Eastwood starring Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby team and Morgan Freeman as the newly elected president Nelson Mandela.  Invictus is a great movie, a tale of forgiveness, and racial unity and overcoming enormous, racial obstacles.
The title of the movie comes from the poem with same title by Victorian poet, William Ernest Henley.(Click here to read poem) The plot of the movie revolves around the two central characters, Francois (Matt Damon) and Nelson Mandela.  The backdrop of the movie begins with the momentous release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 from Robben Island.  Four years later Mandela was elected as president of the new, recently desegregated, South Africa.  Mandela, through a series of meetings befriends Francois, the captain of the team and inspires him to use the sport as a way of uniting the country.    After about a year of training and playing matches the South African team wins the rugby world cup uniting an entire nation, and vindicating Nelson Mandela’s courageous move in uniting South Africa.  (Click here to view movie trailer)
The scene that impacted me the most was when Mandela unannounced, stormed into a national athletic meeting. The board was in the process of voting to change the rugby team’s jersey colors to black, a color representing the black population’s struggle with Apartheid.  Mandela, in a courageous, potentially dangerous move decides to confront these leaders and urges them not to change the country’s sport colors.  He urges them instead to unite, to forgive, to use the country’s Springbok colors instead of the new proposed change.
            I couldn’t help but notice the similarities of another transcendent political leader, Barack Obama. Obama was a unique candidate he was bi racial, highly educated, did not come from a political family, was young, attractive, wrote two bestselling books and was a great and inspirational speaker.  He took the political world by surprise and became our nation’s first bi racial president.   So what did he do when took office? Did he unite a scattered nation like Mandela?  Unfortunately No; unlike Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama did not seek to unite his nation through forgiveness and reconciliation, he instead decided to further alienate his opponents.  Obama decided instead that he would use his political clout as a way of passing legislature that suited his preferences, ignoring the general needs of his population.  The consequence of Obama’s misleader ship is that we have a country that is more divided, angrier, more hurting than when he first took office.  So why did this happen?
I believe that the tragedy of this all is that Barack Obama choose not to forgive his opponents, to unite our whole country behind his leadership. He could have used his power like Mandela to unite a fledgling country. He could have been great; he could have been so much more.   Great leaders are great because they possess the extraordinary ability to unite people often times with opposing points of view, behind a central cause. Think of great leaders such as George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.  What made Abraham Lincoln great?  Was it the Gettysburg Address?  Was it his brilliant leadership? Was it his passing of the Emancipation Proclamation?  No it wasn’t these attributes although great.  Instead it was his uncanny ability to forgive, to unite a country under one flag. Lincoln could have punished the South after Union’s victory but he didn’t; he choose to forgive and like Mandela he was able to transcend a nation’s hatred towards itself, ushering in true peace, and forgiveness.   Obama unfortunately has not done this and as a result our country is suffering greatly for it.  Barack Obama has forfeited his greatness, for political expediency and the long term consequence is that we have a nation now that is seething with anger and disunity.  Obama has missed his opportunity for greatness.


Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was a notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is a famous scene in the Bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident, Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments, I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob, I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He, in fact, encouraged this honest…