Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama was Contemplative!

By Saeed Qureshi

During the inauguration ceremony for his second term as the 44th president of the United States, president Obama wore a sober and contemplative look on his face. He was staring most of the time in the space and was engrossed in deep thoughts.

One would guess as to what was weighing so heavily on his mind. It was unlike Obama, otherwise an embodiment of confidence, to be caught in a pensive mood and apparently detached with the company that was around him.

He also stumbled for a fraction of a second during the oath taking but it was not as a glaring mishap as was during his previous oath taking in 2009. In his speech it was evident he was not in it and perhaps his thoughts were scattered or that he lacked concentration as would be reflected on one’s face. 

The kind of broad smile he would splash on such mirthful and jubilant occasions, was manifestly faint and listless. In a minor way, one would guess that he also losing track of what he was capturing from his teleprompter. I have a feeling that he did not go through full text of his speech.

Was he concerned about his security with a lurking fear that the event might turn unsavory or there could be some unpleasant twist all of sudden. Or was he reflecting about the monumental challenges that lay ahead of him and he had to address those as fast as he could. While embracing his family members and those near him, he remained serious and barring one or two instances, he did not exude a cheerful countenance.

But despite all these odd speculations about his serious features, it was yet another historic and memorable moment for him and also for the United States of America. For an African-American person, to return to the highest and the most powerful office of the presidency, for the second time, in a county with white majority robustly speaks for the intellect, talent and genius of Obama.

It also vouches for the love and the liking that the people of this great country have for him. It also eloquently testifies to the unshakable commitment of the American people in the abiding democratic culture that is beacon for the rest of the world.

The will of the people prevails in this magnificent country and it is upon their choice that a leader assumes power. Abraham Lincoln the legendary president so expressively and forcefully defined the democratic tradition in United Sates as, “of the people, by the people, for the people”. 

Let us keep in mind that president Obama proudly and humbly calls himself the disciple and follower of that great president. Indeed he is treading the glorious path of President Abraham Lincoln who in those tumultuous times not only freed the slaves but rebuilt the federation on lasting foundation by winning the civil war.

During his second term, president Obama’s most pressing priority would be to strengthen the faltering economy and bring it back on healthy tracks. Yet his more imperative task would be to reduce tension around the world. The first step towards that fabulous direction is to terminate or scale down the American military involvement in various parts of the world. 

His decision to recall all the American troops from Afghanistan next year is a giant step that would help reduce the fiscal deficit caused by the heavy spending in Afghanistan.

The dire need for America is to renew her commitment as an honest stakeholder for world peace and to bring about uniformity in promoting democratic and civil societies without discrimination. America needs to win the hearts and minds of the people through socio-economic aid and not by use of force. 

It would be an immortal achievement of Barack Obama if he translates into reality, the United Nations’ mandate, with regard to the creation of an independent state for the uprooted Palestinian people.  Above all it is time that America presents itself as a friend and not a bully to the world.

There was one glaring lapse in this pageant ceremony that would lurk in the minds of the Muslim citizens of the United States. The poet of the day Richard Blanco forgot to add the salutation “Salam” that the Muslims utter to greet each other like Shalom of the Jews and Namaste of the Hindus. Was it deliberate or unintended?

1 comment:

  1. >>The poet of the day Richard Blanco forgot to add the salutation “Salam” that the Muslims utter to greet each other like Shalom of the Jews and Namaste of the Hindus. Was it deliberate or unintended? <<

    Thank you for bringing up the only interesting question that the poem provides. Poetry is supposed to give people the opportunity to struggle over the author's intentions, or to grasp a meaning that the author gave to a work spontaneously, subconsciously, and/or unwittingly. In a "poem" full of platitudes, cliches, and pandering, we are left to trying to decipher whether the poet intended to give a nod to multiculturalism and inclusiveness in a way that privileged, intentionally, some ethnic groups over others. In the next stanza he used the term "Freedom Tower," which is no longer the name of the Ground Zero building due to the Port Authority's feedback from the public.

    Italian is the 8th most common language spoken in the US, Hindi is the 17th most common, Hebrew isn't in the top 21.

    Is there some reason why he picked these languages over others? Did he do so quickly or deliberately? I anticipate, if pressed, he would say he picked the languages quickly for an Inauguration Poem and doesn't get why people are reading anything into it.

    I'm not a Muslim and I don't need to tell you the way certain slights against Muslims are an unfortunate top-down pattern in our American culture, but as I also probably don't have to tell you the majority of Americans don't follow this same pattern.