03 June 2009

Proud of My President

As a young American who has come of age in a time of G. W. Bush, it is a great joy to have a president who is a critical thinker; as an American living in Africa, it was with overwhelming pride that I watched the peaceful transfer of power between two leaders of disparate ideologies; and, as a Peace Corps volunteer working to build cross-cultural understanding, which begins with dialogue, it is with great encouragement that I applaud President Obama's modality of not only reaching out, but stepping out, in an offering to begin a new chapter in the US Government's relationship with the Muslim world.

It is wholly accurate that conflict will not come to a halt upon the close of Mr. Obama's speech in Cairo this week and the President has no expectations of the kind. For one, as Mr. Friedman (Obama on Obama) has aptly noted, “they” will have to take Mr. Obama's invitation to engage in open and honest dialogue; to acknowledge, sometime deep, ideological differences, but to accept them and seek a common ground to build upon. Peace is clearly a two way street. But, speeches like these are the seeds from which real change begins – how impressions in hearts and minds are formed.

Most importantly, after eight years of severe categorical alienation, the American government owes it to the Muslim world to reach out. While there are political advantages to doing this, President Obama seems to be doing it substantially because it's the right thing to do – and I'm quite proud of him.