Monday, 19 January 2009

Choosing Battles: Obama and Change

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day – Tuesday 20th January 2009
Amanullah De Sondy

‘Racism is dead’, shouted an African-American man in the streets of Brooklyn on the night Barack Obama was elected as the President of the United States. I was visiting my friends there on that historic night and we were on our way back from an election results party. Today sees the inauguration of the first black American president.

Obama is expected to resolve a vast number of issues. In his election campaign his famous words were ‘yes, we can’ which helps release some pressure from his shoulders as change will surely come when everyone unites for change and progress, whether we all understand change and progress in the same way is one to think about. For example can we resolve the Arab/Israeli conflict? I have been inundated with text messages asking me to sign petitions damning everything to do with Israel. But is the issue so black and white? On one side the Palestinians seek their independent state and on the other Israel seeks safety and security. As a Muslim my spiritual existence cannot overlook the misery of others for the peace of my fellow Muslims. Add to this particular conflict, the continuing war on terror and the global financial crisis and Obama’s job looks even more daunting.

I believe that every person, including political leaders, chooses their battles carefully in the knowledge that not all battles can be fought or even won. Most importantly every battle requires a firm stance and not everyone will agree on that, the outgoing President Bush is an example of this. Obama’s achievement of being the first black president, sworn in the day after the national holiday for Martin Luther King, reminds us that solving problems on this scale requires effort over years, even generations. Obama commented that ‘the dream of our founders will live on in our time’ and it is with those dreams of hope, change and progress that we all pray and do the best we can.