Each of us is a product of our environment. We do not know the secrets of epigenetic study – that mystery of our DNA that is shaped by influence of nurture. So we are left to speak in terms of biography.
Biography is termed ‘narrative history.’ Narrative, by it’s nature is anecdotal. Written about famous or powerful people to better understand their impact on their world, there is always a visit to their childhood. The childhood visits attempt to categorize, to crystallize, to make some sense of what made this great person. But as noted, we do not yet understand epigenetic science.
We speak of the influence of nurture. But we do not fully understand. Children born into poverty have achieved success equal to many born into privilege. Medical conditions strike without regard to social class or economic stature. Heart disease, diabetes, addiction, and Alzheimer’s know no bounds. Success knows no bounds.
Yet we humans seem compelled to find answers. Why does one succeed and another fail? We speak of character – that elusive trait of personality. We suggest some are born with strength of character – but then why do we bother with childhood nurture?
The debate is as old as Aristotle and Plato. And we continue the debate. While we are unable to completely understand and quantify the methods of nature – we can visibly chronicle nurture.
Thus we enter another American Presidential election cycle – trying to understand the leadership qualities of our candidates. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama have very different experiences with nurture – yet both are poised to lead this great nation and the free world as we comprehend it today. Senator McCain presents his video biography of family leadership as proof of his inherited leadership qualities. The logic is this: Born to leaders, raised by leaders, produces leaders.
Check out McCain’s polished bio:
There is an eerie sense of entitlement from the McCain sponsored video. The heredity of social class empowers descendants with the idea of inherent superiority – the royal notion of blue blood.
Obama has video bio also:
These are compelling videos – compelling stories of great men. There is no doubt that each of these men possess that trait of personality that we call strength of character.
So what? What do these stories tell us? James McBride is an author who wrote a tribute to his white mother, published in 1996, titled, “The Color of Water.” This is a story of prejudice and discrimination, of struggle and pain, of hard work and education – and ultimately of achieving the truth of American success.
My personal admiration and personal bias favors the man of character who had to face adversity – and proved himself worthy. Senator’s John McCain and Barack Obama have each faced the demons of their lives. These are truly men worthy of leadership.
Each of us has a personal history – a history that focuses our attention on particular values, on particular traits of character. I was raised by a proud man, a man who endured prejudice and discrimination, struggle and hard work, a man committed to his family. My life experience points my moral compass to Barack Obama.
Barack Obama is the color of water.