If Everyone is Family…

A remarkable passage from Larissa MacFarguhar’s profile of Barack Obama:

When Obama, as a young man, went to Kenya for the first time and learned how his father’s life had turned out – how he had destroyed his career by imagining that old tribalisms were just pettiness, with the arrogant idea that he could rise above the past and change his society by sheer force of belief – Obama’s aunt told him that his father had never understood that, as she put it, “if everyone is family, no one is family.” Obama found this striking enough so that he repeated it later on, in italics: If everyone is family, no one is family. Universalism is a delusion. Freedom is really just abandonment. You might start by throwing off religion, then your parents, your town, your people and your way of life, and when, later one, you end up leaving your wife or husband and your child, too, it seems only a natural progression.

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