Monday, November 5, 2012

Barack Obama, immigration and asking more for yourself

Obama at Occidental College via The New Yorker
Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.

– President Barack Obama
I know that people don't choose their parents and we all just do our best with whatever cards we are dealt. I understand that Gov. Romney can't be blamed for being born to privilege and, honestly, I sometimes feel for him: for growing up in the shadow of prominent men, needing to live up to their stature and expectations.

But I must say that I do admire Obama for taking the courage and ambition of his parents, their love for books and ideas, their sense of adventure and unwillingness to pursue conventional paths and forging one such path for himself. As an immigrant, I am drawn to that on an almost intuitive level because it mimics my experience of America in so many ways. 
I came here with nothing but my parents' love to support me, my memories of a sweet, simple childhood and a vague idea that I, too, somehow mattered in a way that was bigger, brighter than what had been available to me back home at the time. And I felt that there were kind people here in this country who somehow wanted me to get that chance, possibly because somebody had given one to them once. I was poor and clueless and my English was oh-my-god SO BAD. But America was sweet to me and open. And let me believe that I was worthy of chance, unconditionally and without restrictions. 

I so wish I could vote for him. I love people with ambition but I admire people with imagination more.

1 comment:

  1. Very moving and inspirational speech which left me a believer for a whole day. But I've always thought that the openness and the plentiful of chances are something like founding principles of the States and not a property of Obama. He is great for a spiritual leader, no doubt, but he is trying to make America more like Canada - a cultural, peaceful land far away from any great achievement. Or at least this is the way in which he goes. It was the Darwinian nightmare of the savage capitalism that has made America the world leader. Dark secrets for the white people.

    Imagination is impossible without emotion (and sin), the scientists say. Something tells me it's the emotion that won the elections, not reason. Besides... I don't know, but becoming the president of this country seems like the most conventional path in the universe to me.