Kearns says, "There's a serenity there that I think both of them share in their relationship. . ."
Now, as a recovering alcoholic I am well versed in the wonderful Serenity Prayer (although I need to more frequently follow those simple words). But I love to look up words, even those that I'm familiar with, to see them in new ways and I'm still having loads of fun with the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus that I blogged about some months ago. So I ran Serenity through that program. The Visual Thesaurus is described as "an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words." Words that blossomed and branched out from Serenity were: peacefulness, peace of mind, peace, heartsease, ataraxis, repose, tranquility, placidity, quiet. Additionally, the sidebar at the Visual Thesaurus offered Serenity descriptive phrases including Steadiness of mind under stress; a disposition free from stress or emotion; the absence of mental stress or anxiety.
This wasn't the first time I'd heard the word Serenity applied to describe Barack Obama in the last 24 hours in commentaries and interviews. I wondered if there was a wider recognition of this quality in our President-elect and googled "comments about Obama using serenity." Below is a sampling of what I found from around the country and the world.
from The Seattle Times, Oct. 21, 2008
The serenity of Barack Obama, by David Brooks - syndicated columnist
We've been watching Barack Obama for two years now, and in all that time there hasn't been a moment in which he has publicly lost his self-control. This has been a period of tumult, combat, exhaustion and crisis. And yet there hasn't been a moment when he has displayed rage, resentment, fear, anxiety, bitterness, tears, ecstasy, self-pity or impulsiveness.
Some candidates are motivated by something they lack. For LBJ, it was respect. For Bill Clinton, it was adoration. These politicians are motivated to fill that void. Their challenge once in office is self-regulation. How will they control the demons, insecurities and longings that fired their ambitions?
But other candidates are propelled by what some psychologists call self-efficacy, the placid assumption that they can handle whatever the future throws at them. Candidates in this mold, most heroically FDR and Ronald Reagan, are driven upward by a desire to realize some capacity in their nature. They rise with an unshakable serenity that is inexplicable to their critics and infuriating to their foes.
from Spiegel Online International, Nov. 5, 2008
America's New Leader: The Serenity of Barack Obama, by Gregor Peter Schmitz
He's a candidate who likes to read the philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr. And one who doesn't get sweat stains on his ironed white shirt, even in the sweltering heat of Nevada or Indiana. He has studied the Socratic Method applied at US law schools -- the principle of eliciting truth through the astute interplay of questions and answers. His wonderfully composed speeches rarely betray a sense of humor. He's evidently a devoted family man and a proud father.
from Other Jones - Journal, by Deena Stryker, Jul. 14, 2008
The most significant thing about Barack Obama’s interview with Fareed Zacharia yesterday on CNN, was his serenity. Obama’s detractors have called his noble demeanor a suit. But nobility is a manifestation of inner strength, and as was plain to see yesterday, strength brings serenity. American’s yearn for an end to the shrill hype that has characterized the political stage, and Zacharia’s Sunday GPS brings discussions and interviews to a new level. Yesterday, his firmness delineated a space where Obama’s equanimity could flower.
In reading these commentaries I am filled with gratitude for the outcome of the election, and yes, I'm filled with serenity as a result.