Prez Obama's now-famous speech at the Cairo University was poetic, to say the least. I was mesmerized by his clear voice and lucid diction as I watched him address the audience at the university and the world outside ... on youtube. While I appreciate the large-hearted token of friendship and understanding extended by the new president, I am cynical about how this man can really change a million attitudes.
I read the transcript of that speech ... and it looks like an award-winning essay. Obama is well-traveled, has the distinct advantage of mixed parental and step-parental lineage, highly educated and more than that an enthusiastic deep thinker who carries him nothing more than the force of conviction. But as much as I respect and love Obama, I am wary of how much he can translate his words into action.
Yet, I have hope. I was talking to one of my Iranian friends (perks of living in this new world) and she was obviously terribly upset over the rampant blatant violence and injustice in her country. But it was the voice (more like hearsay) of another Iranian acquaintance that caught me... He says that it doesn't matter whether Ahmadejinad or Mousavi come to power. It won't make any difference because ultimately, as the world is witness to, Khomenei and his orthodox puritanical clergy are the 'supreme' power in the country. He said, the rebellion should actually be directed towards ousting the religious heads from fiefdom as they are truly responsible for the unrest in the country. The cry for change is one for a more liberal society and not just for a change in leadership...
Which reminds me of something that MP once said... "A country based on religion can never be successful"... in the context of the 1947 partition. And the more I think about it, the more it seems true. Pakistan and India are cultural twins. (and I can vouch for this as I mingle with quite a few Pakis here). Jinnah apparently envisaged a future for the two countries as one similar to the bond between the USA and Canada - competitive but peaceful. The only reason Jinnah pushed for the creation of Pakistan was to ensure a living in accordance with the principles of the Quran. Yet, even in a country that is homogeneously Muslim, their people are caught in the midst of strife - Muslims killing Muslims. Israel, also created for religious homogeneity, is constantly striving for survival... with ambitious surges of expansion. India on the other hand (while truly not secular), has relatively managed peaceful habitation and co-existence amidst a garden of religions. The USA is similar. Yes, there is no denial that there is a constant show of religious one upmanship in these countries... which makes MP's statement stronger. Personally, religion for me is just a way of instilling discipline in our lives... the matter of God is more spiritual. And you can't dictate the correct way of living... it is a personal choice. MP, you're absolutely right.
I hope the Hindutva ideologues see this glaring evidence. For the love of my country, I pray that we are never wholly saffronized.
P.S. ... we keep teasing MP about being a kid... but he does seem to have some sparks of brilliance and mature thinking. ;)