"Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and that drives their bretheren still. My powers of empathy, my ability to reach into another's heart, cannot penetrate the blank stares of those who would murder innocents with abstract, serene satisfaction."
The words of not-yet President, taken from the preface to the 2004 edition of his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father."
Coming from Obama, author of "The Audacity of Hope," and someone whose capacity for empathy otherwise seems unlimited, these words underscore the density of the darkness in which persons who choose a path or pact of murder-suicide live.
They underscore the second-term embarking Obama’s reality-rooted optimism: his grounded, well-rounded belief in other’s goodness – which is possibly America’s best hope of a compromise tax deal between Republicans and Democrats, preventing their country from plunging stubbornly off the pending new year’s fiscal cliff.
Such optimism, moreover, is probably the best hope of the seemingly bankrupt Middle East “peace process."
As the Israeli army and a hitherto less militarily penetrativenow trade missiles and rockets on what for now seems a more or less equal footing, one imagines that only an Obama-like capacity for empathy could bring those ancient rivals back from the brink of mutual self-destruction.
An Obama-like optimism, creativity and resilience, demonstrated in his recovery after losing the first presidential debate tois precisely what residents of New York City and other places hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy are being challenged to demonstrate.
As government and other efforts to assist them falter and may be subject to disheartening diversion or delay, it is the determination and perseverance of not only pregnant but in labor Galicia Malone - who on her way to hospital took a detour to ensure that she voted for President Obama on Nov. 6 – that New Yorkers and others are being called on to display.
That kind of creativity and resilience was apparently beyond the capacity of 50-year-old British businessman Christopher Fosters.
Burdened with debts, the showy Shropshire millionaire killed his 49 year old wife Jill, 15-year-old daughter Kirstie and himself in August 2008.
He also killed their pet dogs and horses before setting fire to the family’s £1.5 million mansion.
His behaviour, caught on CCTV that had been installed to protect his home, has been described as methodical and calculated.
It is to that extent, at least, comparable to the manipulative, bully-praying behaviour of American mining magnate Robert E. Murray.
Foster’s reported preoccupation with material wealth and social standing also recalls the Romney-like razing of 47 percent of Americans reputations: the slander of having first labeled them “takers” and now accusing them of being motivated to vote for Obama mainly by “gifts” the first African American President gave them.
Contrast that divisive thinking – widely deplored by Democrats and Republicans (like Bobby Jindall) alike – with President Obama’s Pan Humanist, inclusive analysis.
Here, in another excerpt from his autobiography, he rebukes his Kenyan aunt for her tribal trafficking in Talibank stereotypes: “It’s thinking like that that holds us back,…We’re all part of one tribe. The black tribe. The human tribe. Look at what tribalism has done to places like Nigeria and Liberia.”
Such inclusive, identity mapping reasoning – applied in a limited Afrocentric context in the story Obama tells in this instance – is essentially consistent with the wider, race, religion and culture reconciling outlook that affords the 44th and current American president the most generous horizons.
And through him – by embracing his vision of boundaries transcending, transformational change – Americans and other citizens around the world have a chance to collectively and inclusively advance the cause of humanity unlike any before, and possibly, unlike any we may see again.