Much like people remember where they were when they heard JFK was shot, or avidly listening to the radio when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, mankind will remember their twenty first century defining moment when Barrack Obama was elected to the Presidency of the USA. I was at my farm in Godagama, Meegoda this 5th November 2008 morning watching CNN when it was called, and the loud cheers and roars around the world could be felt in my body.
The tears streaming in my eyes, watching the faces of African Americans truly rejoicing, meant it certainly was a defining moment in my life. I having lived in the US for 14 years, felt that great country had finally cast off the last vestiges of prejudice and entered the truly modern era. I hope I will also live to see the day when a non-Sinhala Buddhist person, would rise to the Presidency of Sri Lanka, and only then will this country also claim the same moral status amongst the truly liberated nations on earth.
For a man with a Harvard Law degree but little experience in the art of governance, this meteoric rise in the past six years, from being nobody, to be the most recognized face on Earth is truly astounding, and must have had some kind of divine intervention to make happen, if one believes in God. Using the skills of a community organizer in Chicago, to galvanize the youth, and minorities, and use the internet to attract donations in small increments of $5 was a unique method of attracting grass roots, and young previously disenfranchised people and empowering them to form the back bone of his campaign is an example to us of the art of the possible, and I am sure a treatise on how it was achieved would be in print before too long.
The eloquence of his speeches, the inspiration of his persona and charisma that he exuded in all the sold out events both before and after receiving the Democratic Party’s nomination, gave rise to the optimism, that America had at last found a leader they can have hope in after 8 years of the most lackluster and extremely flawed leadership of the George W presidency. The delivery on this hope will be the next challenge, and I don’t envy BHO in meeting the expectations of the world. It is hard enough to be a leader, but to be the leader of ‘the free world’ is even harder as his every step will be watched and analyzed with many only looking for the missteps to point to. I am confident that he is up to the task at hand and I send him my best wishes.
Now comes the true art of delivery on the promises. For a man who did not stoop to character assassination of his opponents, he must keep that integrity in the presence of foreign leaders, testing his abilities with provocations just to pick a fight. He can hold on to the moral high ground if he acts calmly and without a hair out of place. McCain on the other hand is prone to unexpected outbursts that detract from his otherwise impeccable credentials, but would not bode well with the threats posed from outside, quite contrary to the common view of him being stronger on foreign policy.
Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as his VP was also inspiring in that he chose experience to fill that void in his background, but also moreover, chose the person who is the least wealthy Senator in the United States Senate, whose total declared net worth is less than $200,000, including the equity of his home, which is less than any cabinet minister in Sri Lanka. So we have two individuals from very humble backgrounds, another reinforcement of the American Dream.
One significant reason for my even greater enthusiasm for BHO is that he is truly a citizen of the world. His father was from Kenya, where he still has half brothers. He lived in Indonesia when his mother married an Indonesian, so his sister, his mother’s only other child is half Indonesian. His mother a Midwestern American, from I guess, Irish or English roots, gave birth to him in Hawaii a state with an indigenous people. Having a middle name of Hussein with a father of the Muslim faith in this decade where Saddam Hussein of Iraq was the villain of the peace. Is this poetic justice?
One could not have imagined a script for this story, while all this is historic fact. This nigh impossible outcome, was made possible, by a series of calculated and unplanned chances, all coming together when it all mattered. Hence my belief in, a higher-being responsible in giving hope, when things seem hopeless. Let this be a lesson to us all to never lose faith in the impossible. BHO is only human and can only do so much. We must work together to build a better world, embracing the ideals of inclusion and the possible, in the face of tragedy and adversity. So it is not him who has to perform, but us all to follow and do the same, all BHO did was show us the way, and inspired us to aspire to do what is good, what is right and persevere in the face of adversity, which many of us face in our daily lives. The world so lacks leaders of character and stature let this be a new beginning in the road to tame the unprecedented upheavals in the world today, not only the economic and financial crisis but that of poverty and terrorism as well.