In a few days we in Guyana will see the outpouring of hope in a better future for all mankind with the elevation of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States of America. The election of Mr.Obama to the most powerful post in the world is a testament to the democratic tradition still very much alive in the USA , proving that the election process in that country is delineated by the involvement of the people at all levels of society.
But the road to the White House for President Obama really began in the modern era with the tremendous social and political work of Dr Martin Luther King who blazed a trail of civil and human rights over 50 years ago in the segregated parts of the USA. At the end of his life, Dr King had become a world figure dedicated to the spread of democratic traditions, human rights and the concept of a world at peace − all based on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. In Dr King’s dining room where his family gathered, there was a large portrait of the Mahatma dominating the room and his admiration and love for Gandhi can be understood by the following passage from his autobiography:
“Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus Christ above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. Love, for Gandhi, was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking. The intellectual and moral satisfaction that I failed to gain from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, the revolutionary methods of Marx and Lenin, the social contracts theory of Hobbes, the ‘back to nature’ optimism of Rousseau, the superman philosophy of Nietzsche, I found in the nonviolent philosophy of Gandhi.”
And in a speech on March 22, 1959, Dr King stated: “Here was a man who achieved in his lifetime this bridging of the gulf between the ego and the id. Gandhi had the amazing capacity for self- criticism.
This was true in his individual life, in his family life and was true in his people’s life. Gandhi criticized himself when he needed it. And whenever he made a mistake, he confessed it publicly. And any time he made a mistake, even in his personal life, or even a decision that he made in the independence struggle, he came out in the public and said, ‘I made a mistake.’ Mahatma said to his people: ‘If you are hit, don’t hit back; even if they shoot at you, don’t shoot back. If they curse you, don’t curse back. Just keep moving. Some of us might have to die before we get there. Some of us might be thrown in jail before we get there, but let’s just keep moving.’ And they kept moving and walked and walked, and millions of them came together.”
Dr King used the concepts and strategies of the Mahatma to keep his people moving towards a dream of a better America. Today, we see the culmination of his dream into a moving reality with the elevation of President Obama to the White House. During the early 1960s ,Dr.King actually moved to, lived and did a lot of civil rights work in Chicago, Illinois and this actually prepared the way for future champions of the people, like Barack Obama, who started his political career there. With the inauguration of Mr Obama on our collective minds, let us not forget the truly great contribution of Martin Luther King, who gave his life, just as the Mahatma had, for the betterment of all of mankind.
President Obama will be dedicated to the dreams of Dr King and the Mahatma by working to ensure a peaceful world; he will be in constant movement to expose and undermine corrupt and evil leaders who lie and decieve their people whereever they reside in this world; he has already started on the correct path of being a leader who can say in public: “I made a mistake” and his humility, compassion and sincerity are obvious to all observers; he has already shown the ability to unite people, forgive past injustices and move on to inclusive governance by bringing to his cabinet people who differ with him; he has given the people of the USA and the whole world a new hope with a commitment to real change to preserve but revamp the economic system of free enterprise; but most of all, President Obama has given us in these parts of the world, a real hope in our future by inserting in our collective brains, the realization that we can stand up and shout about our future, against the corrupt governance of our times, and achieve our dreams for a better day with the mantra, “Yes, we can!”
Cheddi (Joey) Jagan (Jr)