from "Dreams from my Father"

November 24, 2020
I finished Barack Obama's "Dreams from my Father", published when he was the Junior Senator from Illinois. I was kind of hoping to find the secret to his equanimity, how he got the nickname "No Drama Obama". Not sure I found that but it was still a good read. I definitely got more admiration for his work as community organizer, and a suggestion of how few opportunities present themselves in the tougher urban districts of Chicago.

Guilt is a luxury only foreigners can afford. Like saying whatever pops into your head.
Lolo Soetoro (Obama's stepfather)
I fell back on the couch and lit a cigarette, watching the match burn down until it tickled my fingertips, then feeling the prick on the skin as I pinched the flame dead. What's the trick? the man asks. The trick is not caring that it hurts. I tried to remember where I'd heard the line, but it was lost to me now, like a forgotten face. No matter. Billie [Holiday] knew the same trick; it was in that torn-up, trembling voice of hers. And I had learned it, too; that's what my last two years in high school had been about, after Ray went off to junior college somewhere and I had set the books aside; after I had stopped writing to my father and he'd stopped writing back. I had grown tired of trying to untangle a mess that wasn't of my making.

I had learned not to care.
Barack Obama, "Dreams from my Father"
(That might be where the book comes closest to his equanimity, but I don't think this quote on how to deal with a potentially endless series of racial insults put against the feeling of never being able to do enough for his family, community and race. On FB, a friend points out this might be a reference to the movie Lawrence of Arabia)
But power was patient and knew what it wanted; power could out-wait slogans and prayers and candlelight vigils.
Barack Obama, "Dreams from my Father"
From the politics after the death of Chicago's iconic powerful black mayor Harold Washington. Sometimes when I'm out there with my horn trying to add musical energy to some good cause my thoughts fit in that same groove.
Once upon a time, Jesus spoke to an angry crowd that wanted to kill a guilty woman. "Of all of you, he who can say he has never done anything wrong can come forward and kill her."

After they heard this, the crowd stopped.

When the crowd retreated, Jesus raised a stone and killed the woman, and said, "I am also a sinner, but if the law can only be executed by a spotless person, then the law will die."
Whoa. I'm struck by how the Americans who might find this retelling the most blasphemous... kind of act like they agree with this Jesus' point?