“America is the place where all things are possible!”
- Barack Hussein Obama, on becoming 44th American President.
Long ago I was asked if USA would ever see a Black President and I remember saying that I may not see it in my lifetime. And yet what seemed impossible back then has become possible now. Today, I was listening to Barack Obama speak, delivering his ‘historic speech’ in Chicago, and couldn’t help myself moved and swayed. It felt as if one of my favorite speeches ‘I have a Dream’ has actually come true.
‘I have a Dream’
It wasn’t very long ago when Blacks in America had no right to vote, when they were treated like second-class citizens in their own country, when the Whites said that the time has not come for Blacks to get the equal responsibility and freedom. And yet, within 43 years of getting the right to vote, Americans have now voted a Black man as their President.
Forty five years ago, Martin Luther King delivered a speech, in which he outlined his dream:
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"
Today, we have seen America live up to that pledge. It took America 230 years to realize the full potential of what the founding fathers committed to.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Today, we saw thousands of blacks and whites cheering for Obama. The kids of Barack Obama and kids of Joe Biden walked hand in hand onto the stage. The blacks and whites felt equal in their celebrations. And America saw Obama as man of character, not his color, to elect him as their President.
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."
Today, we saw the sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners hugging, celebrating, and sitting together to take the responsibility of running the country.
Today I am happy, elated, and quite moved, to see America live up to achieve the impossible things they have set out do. Today, Barack Obama said, ‘Yes, we can!’
Yes you can!
Today, America should congratulate themselves for creating a great nation. They have set out do something unimaginable and they have delivered it. That is the true spirit of America. They can! When they set out to do something, they do it! And today, they have excelled and won the hearts of the whole world.
What happens in America is important to all of us, the whole humanity in fact. America is a giant experiment that humanity has set out to conduct few centuries ago. America is culmination of all lessons learnt in our history - a country that was founded on strong principles that were learnt from thousands of years of human history. And yet, they fumbled for a very long time to understand the purport of their own ideals they set out to accomplish. When they said, ‘All me are created equal’, they didn’t know what it actually meant. They didn’t want to part with that equality with Black Americans. It took nearly two centuries to understand what it means, to teach every American what it means.
America! You are a great nation today, not because you are wealthiest, or the mightiest, but because you have the ability to change, admit the mistakes of the past and learn from mistakes of the past. It’s because what you do sets an example for the rest of the world, and when you get arrogant, the world suffers.
Why I believe in America
I have spent nearly a decade of my lifetime in USA. I have learnt a great deal about myself, my nation and the world around because of my time there.
I saw an American father tell his two-year old son to go and put the trash in its right place. The kid obliged, put the trash in the can turned around and walked back to the father. During this time, his trash fell out. The father pointed it out to the son and asked him to go back and make sure it is in the right place. The kid walked back and put it in the right place. This American was not ready to accept a half-done half-baked job. He wanted his son to do complete the job just because it was the right thing to do.
In another incident, during Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky episode, I was amused that the whole country was so obsessed with sexual escapades of their president, and I said so in loud words. One of them, a manager at the place I was working, asked me to stop by at his cube. I went to see him. He opened a small book, it was the American Constitution. He then said something quite significant. He said it’s not about sex. It’s about a lie. The President lied under oath. If the President can lie so can anybody. What kind of example is that for his kids, he argued. Here is an American who expects strength of character from his leaders to make sure they set right examples.
Americans take themselves very seriously. When they commit to something they do it. And sometimes that is also a problem, because if they commit to something wrong, they do it too! A German friend once commented, ‘Almost every country used to hate Jews back then. It is just that Germans are so efficient and determined. Whatever they do, they do it meticulously. They even carried out their hatred quite efficiently’.
America of late has lost its sheen. It lost its leadership position, not because of economy or military, but because it didn’t set the right examples. It didn’t do the right thing. It became arrogant and many people started hating it.
Today, America has changed for good and that is good news for all of us. Obama talks about humility and that’s what we want to hear, and the world looks forward to a ‘new dawn of American leadership’.
Today, we have witnessed a momentous step in the history of mankind. A Black man, born to an African man, has become most powerful man on the planet. If a Black man can become that, so can anybody – that’s the message of this victory. Anybody on the planet whatever his identity can now become dream of becoming anything. It’s a strong message.
We started this journey to liberate man long ago, nearly eight hundred years ago, when the common man started to negotiate his rights. And it was a long journey from then on. Today, we see one more historic step towards emancipation of that common man.
This is not just a victory for Americans. It is a victory for the mankind. The world needs Barack Obama as US President more than America needs Barack Obama as its President. The domestic policies will nevertheless change, but it’s the international politics that the world is more interested in. Barack Obama as the President of US is a good news to world politics. It means less people killed. Hopefully we will see a benign America that does not settle its disputes with wars, pillage and murder. It means America will be less hated. More and more people will change their attitudes towards America. Hopefully we will solve the world disputes during his presidency.
This is a historic step, where Americans have come together to tell us they can change. That they can posit a black man as their leader, their front face to the rest of the world. They know they are not perfect. But they are ready to change. I told myself one day – the struggle of mankind is to make this imperfect world less imperfect. Today, we have seen a nation rise up to say that they are ready to be less imperfect.
Martin Luther King concluded his ‘I have a Dream’ speech saying:
"Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
At last, America is truly free.
Congratulations America! And Congratulations Barack Obama!