Anne E. Kornblut and Michael A. Fletcher report on the array of sources that influence President Obama in their recent story, “In Obama’s Decision-Making, a Wide Range of Influences” (Washington Post). In particular, they report that Obama reads at least ten of the thousands of letters he receives every day. In addition, “Aides say time and time again, at meetings, Obama brings up these stories, which sometimes affect policy.”
Obama insists upon data to substantiate arguments, and Kornblut and Fletcher report that he doesn’t let anecdotal evidence override statistics. But it was the role of stories in Obama’s daily decision making that caught my attention. On countless occasions, Jesus allowed the stories of real people to influence his course of action. To cite one example, he stopped what he was doing to heal a little girl and hear the story of a woman who had been bleeding for years (Mark 5:21-43).
President Obama is as flawed as any of us. He is not Jesus. But the fact that he is attentive to the real lives of real Americans may help him cultivate Jesus’ compassion for people, compassion that translated into sacrificial service for the whole world.