A Prophet is Not Without Honor Except in His Own Country

When I force myself to listen to the sniveling drivel that my television set inflicts on me these days under the heading of “news,” I often find myself recalling words from the Bible in an effort to pacify my spirit and fortify my patience. In the past few days, the passage I keep calling to mind is:

But Jesus, said unto them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country…”

This must be why mountebanks like Newt Gingrich and airheads like Sarah Palin are paraded across my television screen, reciting their wretched litany of complaint against the President. Gingrich somberly proclaims that President Obama “has already failed,” and Palin warns that Obama is leading America down “the path to Socialism” … And on, and on…

barbaraI am reassured when I see that President Obama still enjoys a favorable rating of 67 percent among the American public, but I wonder who are the people that make up the other 33 percent? Are these people living in the world that I inhabit? Do they see what’s going on? Are they deaf, dumb and blind? In Europe, Obama’s approval rating is 74 percent. And around the world, people are marveling at the American President’s wisdom and courage. In a recent edition of the Jamaica Observer, I came across a column by former colleague Barbara Gloudon (photo at right) that reflects the admiration President Obama enjoys outside of his own country.

Here is a brief excerpt:

Barack Obama has become the political phenomenon of our times. He is being criticized for doing too much, instead of the usual too little. He seems to be driving his political detractors crazy, trying how to cut him down to size. He’s not buying it. In this week’s mail, I received a photo of a remarkably moving moment captured by a White House photographer. It shows the 44th President bending way down to facilitate the curiosity of a little boy who, while paying a call on the “Big Man” in the Oval Office, wanted to touch the President’s hair, to see if it felt like his own. Mr. Obama obliged – and a great photographic moment ensued.

haircutThe commentary which accompanied the picture said, “For some reason it made me burst into tears… Perhaps at the beautiful demonstration of a child’s curiosity when we don’t ‘shush’ them… Perhaps at the thought that this young boy could see part of himself in the President of the United States for the very first time… Perhaps at the humble way Obama bent down… Perhaps all of the above.”

The picture soothed some of the anger my relative expressed on Sunday (at recent criticism leveled in America at Michele and Barack Obama’s night out in New York). In its deceptively simple statement, it reminded us that in small things we can often see a bigger salvation. Frankly, I was envious. Healing opportunities in our politics are becoming too few and far between. We desperately need a salvivic moment of relief from the relentless dryness of spirit which has us now either retreating behind a screen of banality or being numb to the daily blood and bullets.

Watching the phenomenon that is Barack Obama, it is understandable that other nations may be wishing that by some miracle, they could be so lucky as to be blessed likewise with a leader who could add even the smallest lustre to their image, but this is not the movie of the week. We have to raise our own monuments, find our own dew of kindness to restore our own humanity.

Reading Barbara’s commentary, I wondered: Why can’t some Americans accept the fact that the country – and the world – has lucked out for once? Why can’t they recognize that finally a leader has emerged who is not seeking riches or glory but the good of his country – and of all mankind? Why don’t they just acknowledge that this remarkable man is giving every ounce of energy he has to reverse society’s decline into poverty and despair?

If he does not succeed, it will not be because of his shortcomings; it will be because too many Americans remained skeptical of his good will and listened instead to prophets of doom who are motivated by self interest and political ambition.