“I suspect that God’s plan, whatever it is, works on a scale too large to admit our mortal tribulations; that in a single lifetime, accidents and happenstance determine more than we care to admit; and that the best we can do is to try to align ourselves with what we feel is right and construct some meaning out of our confusion, and with grace and nerve play at each moment the hand that we’re dealt.”Barack Obama–A Promised Land
I will admit that I wasn’t paying much attention when Barack Obama was entering his first years in office in 2009. In my defense, we were just moving from Louisville to Nashville, and I had a lot of other things on my mind. I proudly voted for him, and then promptly turned my attention to my life which consisted of little to no political awareness. Truly, it hasn’t been until the last four years that I have paid too much attention to the political landscape. Lately, I have been so disheartened with the ugliness that seems to surround Washington D.C. I so love my country, and I am proud to be an American, but what I see from our nation’s capitol makes my heart ache for something more. I picked up this book in the hopes that looking back to a not- so-distant past would help me understand and better appreciate the political turmoil of our day. This book did not disappoint.
In A Promised Land, Obama discusses in depth his rise to the White House as well as all of the major decisions that he made in his first few years of office. I appreciated Obama’s editorial decision to take his time with this book. He provides not only historical context, but his own personal context with the issues that he was confronted with from his first day in office. He mentions early in the book that he wants the reader to feel as if they are the President, and truly, this book made me feel as if I was a White House insider.
There is so much I could say about this five-star read, but the most important thing that I took away from it is simply a sense of hope. Watching the current news cycle for any length of time has the tendency to create a hardened cynicism that says that change isn’t possible, that our divisions are too deep, and that no optimistic hope can bridge the chasm that seems to divide us. Obama challenged me though to believe in the goodness of people—to believe that there are enough of us using our conscious as our guide—to believe that our individual actions matter in the larger scheme of things. This reminded me that hope is not lost. We all have a part to play, and no part is too small.