Book Review: "The Audacity of Hope"
A True Story
on Apr 15, 2021
Wow! I just finished reading Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope two days ago. What a delightful read it was! This was the third book I devoured this year which captured my attention in the first pages so much that I read to understand it, not to finish it. And I was disappointed to finish reading the book; disapponted because I wanted the pleasure of my reading to go on and on. Allow me to tell you more about the book and what I gleaned from it.
Obama penned The Audacity of Hope in 2006 when he was serving as a U.S. Senator from Illinois. He wrote the book elegantly and candidly, using lively words, in a way that was both lucid and refreshing.
He began the book by narrating how he conducted his first campaign when he ran for a political office in the '90s. It is somewhat inspiring to read his account of the campaign: how he would talk to people he met on the campaign trail and listen to what they had to say, whether they were friendly, indifferent or hostile. Some of the people would find Obama so nice that they would wonder why he was getting into such a nasty and dirty career as politics. But most of them appreciated his earnestness and youthful swagger that they elected him to the Illinois state legislature.
Then Obama narrated how he again ran for another political seat during the 2000 election cycle in the United States. He fared badly in the election and failed to clinch the seat. The setback was a rude awakening to him that things don't always work out the way we have planned them. But the setback didn't discourage Obama from following his passion for politics; it only made him wiser.
As the 2000s wore on, Obama prepared and ran for a bigger political seat: a senatorial seat to represent Illinios. This time, he emerged victorious in the race, aided by the national spotlight he gained after delivering the keynote speech during the 2004 Democratic National Conventiom held in Boston. The keynote speech was in a word, eloquent.
While serving as a U.S. Senator, Obama conducted town hall meetings in Illinios to listen to the problems of his constituents. He wrote of how gratifying it was to see folks turn up for the meetings, sometimes in large numbers, to air their grievances. Those meetings gave Obama blinding insights on what was ailing America - such as the loss of high-skilled, high-wage jobs.
As a U.S. Senator, Obama also interacted with other leaders as well as captains of industries in the United States and in other parts of the world. I admire the way he travelled around the world, to such countries as Iraq, Ukraine and Russia, to get a glimpse of what was transpiring in other nations. Those travels added to his wealth of knowledge.
It is from that wealth of knowledge that Obama derived the ideas he postulated in The Audacity of Hope on how America could be a richer, smarter and safer nation. The book brought out Obama as a dedicated, knowledgeable and hard-working leader. He not only understood the present-day problems of his nation, he also possessed an in-depth knowledge of American history.
The book also portrayed Obama as a loving husband and a devoted father. He recounted in the book about the joys and challenges he faced in the early years of his marriage to Michelle. And he pointed out how he has tried to spare time from his busy schedule to be there for his daughters. It is from those times with his family that Obama derived some of his ideas on how America could help strengthen the families of its citizens.
Reading The Audacity of Hope has reminded me once again that America - the so-called land of freedom and opportunity - is not an utopia. The nation suffers from crime, racism, poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies and other social ills that bedevil developing countries like mine.
By the way, this wasn't the first time I have read The Audacity of Hope. Back in 2012 when I was running for a political seat here in Kenya, I read a PDF version of the book on my father's computer. And after reading the ebook, I felt inspired to conduct my campaign the way Obama did when he first vied for a political seat in the '90s. But you know what? Upon registering to be a candidate for the political seat, I found myself lacking the charisma and youthful energy that was characteristic of Obama.
If you are a leader or aspiring to be one, I highly recommend that you read Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope which, to the best of my knowledge, was the third book by a U.S. Senator to hit the best-seller list since John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage and Al Gore's Earth in the Balance. It sure is a delightful read.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this book review on Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope, you might also enjoy another one I wrote some time back on "Lessons From Barack Obama". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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The Word of God
A True Story
on Apr 10, 2021
Do you enjoy eating as much as I do? Yes, I enjoy eating. Just thinking about what I will have for the next meal fills me with the same delight a soccer player feels when he scores an equalizer. I consider the desire to eat to be one of the best emotions that God bestowed on us. And no blessing is greater than having an appetite for food.
My favorite meal for breakfast is tea or porridge together with slices of bread lined with honey. For lunch and supper, my favorites are ugali taken together with cooked spinach or chapatis with lentils stew. I also take pleasure in feasting on omelettes and fruits such as avocados, bananas, mangoes and pineapples. And I find pineapples so sweet that I have come to view them as cakes prepared and baked by nature.
As I partake my meals, I strive to savor every morsel of food that I take into my mouth. And because I fear putting on weight these days, I always eat in moderation and follow up my eating with physical exercises so as to burn any excess fat that might be accumulating in my fearfully and wonderfully made body.
I have come to realize that my mother, who I am currently staying with here at home, also enjoys eating like I do. But unlike me, she eats like a horse - something that worries me because she hardly ever exercises due to a stroke that paralyzed the left side of her body. So much does Mum enjoy eating that she often asks me what we are having for the next meal.
Like the other day when she woke up in the morning, she inquired from me what we would have for lunch. On answering her, she proceeded to ask me what we would eat for supper. After replying to her second inquiry, I immediately remembered what Jesus told the Devil as He was being tempted in the desert: that man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
I have taken to heart those words of Jesus to an extent of developing a passion for reading and meditating on the Word of God as it is presented to us in the Holy Bible. Believe you me, I take as much delight in studying God's Word as I do in eating chapatis with lentils stew. Sometimes when I am traveling, I carry a Bible with me for reading during any idle moments that might arise.
There was a time in 2018 when I entered into a bookshop in Nairobi to buy a book. I went through all the shelves in the bookshop trying to assess which book I should purchase. In the end, I settled on buying a Bible which turned out to be of the same version as the one I had at home. That I chose to purchase a Bible, and not a novel or a self-help book, shows how passionate I am about reading God's Word.
Of all the books in the Bible, my favorites are the books of Psalms, Proverbs, Sirach and Matthew. (The book of Sirach is found only in the Catholic Bible; it's really inspiring.) I also have a strong affinity for the epistles of St. Paul.
From the Bible, I have learnt to have faith in God; to pray without ceasing; to practise kindness and gratitude; to cast my cares to God for He cares about me; to avoid worrying; to always speak the truth because God hates lies; to honor my parents so that all may go well with me; to refrain from anger; to say 'no' without feeling mean or selfish; to encourage other people instead of putting them down; to value knowledge, wisdom and understanding; and to not steal other people's property.
Perhaps most importantly, I have learnt from the Bible to be a man of good courage. Because the Bible talks of courage 365 times, it has a message of courage for each day of the year. And I find that message helpful since courage is one of the most important virtues. Without courage, it is impossible to practise other virtues with consistency. We can't, for instance, tell the truth without courage; I have discovered most people tell lies because they lack the courage to speak the truth.
There is a lot more to be gleaned from the Bible, especially if we read from a variety of versions. After much of what I have learnt from the Bible which I find pertinent to what we go through in life, I now agree with Norman Vincent Peale that the Bible is not something piously stuffy and boring, but a scientific procedure for successful living. So I have resolved to keep on delighting in studying God's Word as I do in eating.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on the Word of God, you might also enjoy another one I wrote a few years ago on "Part 2: Lessons From The Bible". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.