March 9, 2009
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A Presidential Eloquence - By Hemin H. Lihony

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord….On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” These were few lines from Barack Obama’s inauguration address ‘in the historic vastness of the moment, the unique and unprecedented nature’ of the inauguration ceremony, amidst a rainbow of emotions from tears to smiles, cheers and laughter amongst millions of Americans, as history was in the making on Tuesday January 20th, 2009.

As a Kurd, watching from my television set in the family room couch from the other side of the globe it reached a point where I wished I was in the mall of Washington DC, even if it meant being squashed between millions of people. No exaggeration. A time when America, the world power, is suffering an extreme crisis- almost like a bird who once flew high and speedily in the blue sky now has a bended wing; at a time when Americans were least pleased with their President, when their education system not at its best, a health system crippled and caught up in two major wars the load on Obama’s shoulder was heavy and expectation of the speech were sky-high, he brought the glimpse of hope.

He did it. In the time when he owned the microphone, not only millions of live spectators where taking in his words, but billions of viewers across the world. After the forty-fourth ‘sacred’ oath, the President’s inaugural speech was indeed ‘simple and soaring’. It was performed with confidence and strong feelings. I felt as every word he was saying he truly believed in it, he felt the American people, and more broadly the people of the world, as his expressions addressed people of all corners of the world- the rich, the poor; the evil, the decent; the terrorist, the innocent; the believers, the non-believers; the hopeless and the hopeful.

He expressed his words with passion; it was full of emotion, determination and had an amazing stirring sentiment to it, there is no doubt Obama is a natural orator. Not all people can stand with a microphone and say words that make our hairs stand; sink deep into us, touch or hearts and play with our minds.

It drew my attention, and as he put it with all honesty: “A man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath…” made me to think of how one can succeed if they set their mind to anything, had belief in what they did and more importantly were optimistic, hardworking and dreamed big dreams, indeed ‘yes we can’ be presidents, Prime Ministers, and people of influence if we set our bars high enough and strived with all our might.

We constantly whine and complain of the inequalities and unfairness of this world, nonetheless, we ought to recognize we have come a long way. A time existed when black people were almost not seen equivalent to human beings, today, the most powerful state of the world is under the rule of an ‘elected’ African-American leader- this is progress and democracy of the 21st Century. For once, let us be optimistic, let us welcome change and cooperate in the process. Just having the belief and the spirit that a country can go the right direction the process is half way there.

That is, in Obama words: “With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

Being a close follower of the American elections from the primaries up to date, I have no doubt and with all confidence I can say President Barack Obama in his words that will be recorded in all history books he ‘made a change’ and made us, the non-Americans become part of the American dream. Today, I feel I was part of the journey, I imagine that Obama has become a household name in many corners of the world, including Kurdistan. We have our expectations of him, and in my opinion the friendship between the two nations will only strengthen, as we also share most the values of courage, sacrifice, determination and openness to friendship. 

As I always say “deeds are better than words” and “prove your words by deeds” the words were strong, Obama, let the deeds be stronger!


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