Governing Anew: Obama Reclaims The Honest Moment

05/25/2011 01:05 pm ET

There are those little shifts that happen in our day-to-day lives, so simple that we fail to grasp the cataclysmic effect they represent in our universe. I'm still reeling from one of these that happened last week.

It was a simple gesture. President Obama turned to the American audience and said: I made a mistake. He was referring to his dogged support of Tom Daschle for Health and Human Services Secretary.

We Americans took this in. We listened to the news reports on television and radio, scanned the internet sites reporting the latest in Capitol Hill wrangling, but we missed the real news embedded in that simple act.

That man, our President, walks in a different story. Do you know what that means?

President Obama carries inside himself a narrative -- a story -- about who he is, where he has been, and where he is going that changes the paradigm, the big pattern. He is modeling for every single one of us a different story about who we can be in this world: responsible people.

We all walk around with a story in our heads about who we are, our worth, values, and desires. These are just stories we tell ourselves. They are no more real than a movie from Hollywood. We can change the plot of that story any day, just as some writer or director can shift the direction of a movie, yet few of us ever do.

President Obama is challenging us -- throwing open the door -- inviting us to change the story we tell about who we are in this world: A nation of individuals who accept responsibility for their own actions.

I wonder if we are big enough as a nation, as individuals, to step up to that.