Catching glimpses of Barack Obama watch the "We Are One" Lincoln Memorial concert yesterday, I was reminded of these bits from his 1992 autobiography Dreams from My Father. When Obama was a boy living in Indonesia with his stepfather and mother, she was determined to make him an American.
Obama certainly went on to learn that the United States stood for far less admirable actions and qualities than the virtues his mother tried to teach him; in fact, it was in Indonesia that he first began to wrestle with the injuries of race as we have constructed it.
But he also seems to have learned from his mother to take strength from the aspects of this nation's unfinished story that point in better directions. I saw yesterday's concert as his gift to the nation of that innocent dream that has been so submerged under the detritus of empire and exploitation. We can't live there, but recovering some reminders of the good American myth may help us to live better in the tattered reality that we actually inhabit.