Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lesson 1: Learn from your father, even if he wasn't a good one

Leave a Comment
Barack Obama's life story, starting with his father's departure when he was 2-years-old, is the equivalent of a doctoral program in abandonment, dislocation, and healing. And the last of these can come about only when you truly come to terms with the first two. As Obama's memoir, Dreams from My Father, makes abundantly clear, he was one 20-something who took the time to understand exactly what it meant that his father left the family.

"I would like to think that most of the issues related to my father have been resolved," he says, pointedly. "That's part of what writing Dreams from My Father was about: understanding him, his own personal tragedy. He wasn't a presence in my life, he was an idea that I had to wrestle with for a long time."

Somebody once said, "Every man is either trying to live up to his dad's expectations or make up for his dad's mistakes. And I'm sure I was doing a little bit of both. But I feel that somewhere in my late 20s or early 30s I, sort of, figured out what his absence had meant. It is part of what I think has made me a pretty good dad. I don't think it would have too much of an impact on my decision-making as president. There's no doubt that it has contributed to my drive. I might not be here had it not been for that absent father prodding me early in life."