Why President Obama is NOT the Answer

| November 6, 2012

President Obama has won re-election, and rightly so, but as Arianna Huffington reminded us in a recent post: “…let’s not confuse results for answers.” Answers are what’s needed, but powerful answers are the product of profound questions. That Mr. Obama will be elected is a result of the mechanics of democracy. Tempting though it may be to live vicariously through him, he is an answer only to a question that is emerging from his own unique experience and consciousness.

We are each born with a life question embedded in our nature and the lives we in fact live, is its answer. Asking it is not simply an intellectual pursuit, for often times our life question is not consciously known to us, but this does not stop it from shaping us as its answer. The shape of each individual life, how we each see the world, our finances, our education, our country and world, reflects the depth to which we have each mined ourselves for this question and asked it with awareness and authenticity.

In this general election, framed by some as the most important in American history, so much was at stake. However, Barack Obama is not your answer to your life’s question. You are. And to mine its answer will take asking your question over and over again with ever increasing depth and urgency to evolve yourself as an answer appropriate to your time and place.

Really powerful questions are not rooted in geography, race, gender or sexual identity. This can be unsettling for many Black people [as it is for gays], because, often our question is: How can I get ahead as a Black person in America? Asked in this way, your answer will be circumscribed by your race and your success then becomes defined by the prevailing zeitgiest of Blackness ~ something Mr. Obama himself has studiously avoided.

A life question is not comparative because if it is, your ceiling for accomplishment becomes the Jones’ or whatever or whoever you want to be like, negating the possibility of creating something entirely new. This is true for women who wonder about equal pay and people who question the gradient of playing fields, without inquiring into the nature of the game and the possibility of it’s reinvention.

A powerful question uses qualitative vocabulary that engages the imagination; it inquires into and is evokes simply by asking, the nature of wisdom and the experience of contentment. An example of such a question is: “What do I really need to be happy?” Such a question engages the imagination. It is through the alchemy of our imagined world that we each unfold.

On this election day the way we live our lives is a reflection of the answers we have to date. If our answers are anemic, it is our questions that are wanting. Our challenge is to deepen our ideas about who we are, create enough of a riddle, enough paradox, simplicity and magnitude to each frame ourselves as an answer.

Questions when comprehensively asked encompass the full weight and dimension of our dilemma. My question is: how do I create a global environment where everyone delivers his gift to the planet. For me this is my big question. It encompasses all my questions about human identity and dimensionality; it engages me in wonder, but most importantly it sets me in motion.

Peter Block has written an important little book: The Answer to How is Yes. His idea is simply to say yes to the things that really matter. In the long run what you believe may not be as important to you than that you loved, cared for and was connected to at least one human being. It is by finding what is important to us and acting on it, that we live out our answers to our life questions.

Like each of us, President Obama will spend the next four years refining his life question, removing it even from the confines of politics, even further from the identity of Blackness and gender to create himself as his own remembered answer to his quest. In this, I wish him well.


Olubode Shawn Brown, Esq.

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012



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