Wednesday, November 5, 2008

PRESIDENT OBAMA IS BARACK INDEED


"Yes we can". That electrifying mantra of hope and change that Obama chanted for 21 months to galvanise and unite all Americans has got him where he needs to be to deliver on his promise. Barack Hussein Obama has been elected the 44th President of the United States of America. Martin Luther King's dream has come true, in as dramatic and sudden and unexpected a manner as any one could have conceived.

Who would have thought when an almost unknown and inexperienced Obama first decided to run for President that an African-American would not only humble Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination but go on to conquer the final frontier? Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican Governor of California, tried to rub that point in just a few days before the elections when he reminded Americans that John McCain had served the nation longer as a POW than Obama had done as a Senator.

The comparison was telling. But America was not looking back, nor was it looking at the colour of Obama's skin. America was looking at "the content of his character" as Dr King had once dreamed it would, it was looking at the promise of genuine change that he was articulating with a visionary sincerity, and it was looking at the re-kindling of the spirit that made America the greatest, not the most hated, nation in the world.

The Obama magic was not confined to shores of the US alone. Unprecedented enthusiasm and hope was kindled virtually all over the world. And this phenomenon was not limited to Asia and Africa because his father was a Kenyan Muslim and step father an Indonesian. When a record number of people turned up to listen to him in Berlin earlier this year, there was no escaping the fact that this man was something else. It was evident to all that his refreshingly different message was touching hearts and minds across races and regions and religions.

Barack Obama embodies Mahatma Gandhi's call to 'be the change you want to see'. He made this call the foundation of his campaign and will no doubt carry it into the White House. Also, although he may never have heard about the ancient Indian concept of 'Vasudev Kutumbakam' (the world is one family), his views echo it. "Our stories are singular but our destinies are shared". That is what he told the people of the world in his victory speech at Chicago after he won. That message is but a natural extension of his belief that "there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America."

The 'skinny guy with a funny name' is set to become the most powerful man in the world. His rise will change the US forever. From whatever the world has seen of him till now, there is genuine hope that his ascendancy will change the world for the better too. In more ways than one, Obama is a global citizen. He has seen the US and the world from 'the other side', like no white American President could ever have. That is why he brings with him a positive vision and a perspective quite different from the one America is used to and which has been found to be inadequate in more ways than one.

It would not be wrong to say that America has, for the first ever time in its history, elected more than the President of the United States. Obama already looks larger then the US President he is going to be. The mantle of the natural leader of the whole world seems to sit easily on him. In one singular stroke, the US has started to appear like a helpful leader rather than a despised tyrant. In one magical moment, the meaning of the word 'inclusive' has acquired hitherto impossible dimensions. After one defining development, the world has started looking at least a little bit like one large family with a shared destiny.

Barack means 'blessed' in African. The manner in which he has almost miraculously appeared on the global stage from nowhere suggests that Obama is blessed indeed. Strange coincidences and synchronicities have marked and aided his rise. It is as if an unseen power has chosen to unfold developments at just the right time to ensure that he gets to the top spot without a hitch.

Is his emergence on the global stage as its most powerful leader the harbinger of a massive and long overdue transformation in the affairs of the world?

By 2016, perhaps even before that, we will get to know. For now let us savour this unique and historic moment. From tomorrow, we can resume watching the fascinating and 'Barack' journey of President Obama.

This post has also been published by Post-Tribune, Chicago
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