Wednesday, November 05, 2008

And Now What?

This is a time for greatness

In a historic moment for the world, Barack Husein Obama II has won the Presidential election of the United States. I am pleased for many reasons, but as I stated in my article of March 08:

"Barack's the one"

"there's one reason above all I'm talking about Barack today. One, that he's a good man, and two, he has the potential to be the greatest President that ever lived" and I am so pleased for the people of the U.S., and for the rest of the world.

I had a vision a full year ago, and, when every one thought Hillary Clinton would win, knew he would be the Democratic candidate. I said as much, on a political website. Astrology helped confirm that to me, and also that it would not be the day for John McCain (bad time for Virgos) but didn't want to raise hopes. Whatever I might believe, I would say that it would depend on the effort of people. It simply is unfair to put all our expectations on one person when in the end we all had to make the effort, not just him.

And in the years ahead, and they will not be easy, he must do his share, as we must do ours. But if he inspires us to be better people, then that will be enough. Yes, he has to end the wars abroad. He can cure the economy, if he allows compassion to take over from greed. He has to bring peace to the Middle East. He has to help heal America, and the World. But that isn't his job alone, it's ours.

It is so karmic, a racially mixed black man born of a Muslim father, to come to this place at this time in History. At a time of such division, this is a good sign. The future is so fraught with danger I will only say this: unless you make peace with the Muslim world, there will only continue to be war. And there is a lot more I can say, and I will later, but this is his day, so I am going to just give you a story about his essential humanity:

Old friends recall Obama's college years

"Obama spent the six years between 1979 and 1985 in Los Angeles at Occidental College and then in New York at Columbia University and in the workplace. His memoir, "Dreams From My Father," talks about this time but not in great detail; Siddiqi, for example, is identified only as "Sadik" — "a short, well-built Pakistani" who smoked marijuana, snorted cocaine and liked to party.

Obama's campaign wouldn't identify "Sadik," but The Associated Press located him in Seattle, where he raises money for a community theater. Together, the recollections of Siddiqi and other friends and acquaintances from Obama's college years paint a portrait of the candidate as a young man. They remember a good student with a sharp mind and unshakable integrity, a young man who already had a passion for the underprivileged.

Some described the young Obama's personality as confident to the point of arrogance, a criticism that would emerge decades later, during the campaign. Not everyone who knew Obama in those years is eager to talk. Some explained that they feared inadvertently hurting Obama's campaign.

Among his friends were Siddiqi and two other Pakistanis, all of them from Karachi; several of those interviewed said the Pakistanis were reluctant to talk for fear of stoking rumors that Obama is a Muslim.

"Obama, in the eyes of some right-wingers, is basically Muslim until proved innocent," says Margot Mifflin, a friend from Occidental who is now a journalism professor at New York's Lehman College. "It's partly the Muslim factor by association and partly the fear of something being twisted."

And when his friend was in the process of recovery from drug addiction, Obama gave him a job reference.

"Obama attended Occidental College (September 1979 - June 1981) a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles, California where he continued his cocaine use and played basketball. (He had stopped by the time he got to Columbia) Most of his close friends and roommates were Pakistani Muslims.

At Occidental, Obama became involved in the anti-apartheid movement and divestment in white South Africa. He transferred to Columbia University in his junior year, August 1981.

In 1981 between Occidental and Columbia, Obama and his Pakistani roommate traveled to Asia. They first visited Obama’s mother and sister in Indonesia. From there Obama and his companion traveled to Karachi, Pakistan and stayed with a friend’s family for three weeks."

My cousin was one of his Pakistani friends, and roomed beside him in college. They kept in touch through all the years, and it is through his recollections that I am able to share this story with you.


Xanadu said...

I hope you're right about Obama and that he turns out to be the shining light that ushers in a new age of idealism and justice in American politics.

My heart sinks, however, when I witness the first significant action the President Elect has taken: the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff.

If you are a true supporter of the Palestinian cause, as I have reason to believe you are, you cannot but view with mixed feelings this bizarre appointment to high office of a virulent Islamophobe who also happens to be the son of an Irgun terrorist.

Man From Atlan said...

Not a saint, not a messiah (I reserve that for myself ;) and there are certain realities about the American political process that militate against any change in the plight of the Palestinian people.
Still, a good man, if flawed. Who isn't?
What I see is a great sea change in the way WE deal with life, and say "we can't continue this way", and if what comes next makes us work harder, that's what's best, for all the right reasons.