Temperament Is The Most Important Thing

Today is the birthday of a former American president that some people like and some people don’t. There is no reason to get into politics here. But it is undeniable that Barack Obama’s time in office was defined by his strength of temperament and emotional discipline. Love him or hate him, you can’t say that he was prone to acting rashly or reflectively or without principle. This paragraph below, from a 2014 interview with David Remnick, captures the Stoic side of President Obama and the side we should all strive to cultivate in ourselves, whatever political persuasions we might have.

“I have strengths and I have weaknesses, like every President, like every person. I do think one of my strengths is temperament. I am comfortable with complexity, and I think I’m pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing that I am a product of original sin. And every morning and every night I’m taking measure of my actions against the options and possibilities available to me, understanding that there are going to be mistakes that I make and my team makes and that America makes; understanding that there are going to be limits to the good we can do and the bad that we can prevent, and that there’s going to be tragedy out there and, by occupying this office, I am part of that tragedy occasionally, but that if I am doing my very best and basing my decisions on the core values and ideals that I was brought up with and that I think are pretty consistent with those of most Americans, that at the end of the day things will be better rather than worse.”

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