7 September, 2013 This open letter to Obama started in January 2009 and I am finishing it today.
We have a dream, Mr President
As I listened to Obama’s inauguration speech yesterday, like millions and millions of people all over the world, a tiny spark of hope invaded my gloom. Do I dare hope? Do we dare hope? Do I dare dream? Do we dare dream? For we all have a dream. We have a dream that there will be more justice and less suffering; that we shall all be made accountable equally; that we shall all walk in peace and raise our children in peace and when we are old have shelters above our heads in peace. But why do we dare now when we could not before, during the murky years of Bush’s administration? Perhaps there is something in the character of the man that has awakened in us visions of: All men are equal and, in addition perhaps, the impossible vision that all nations are equal and no nation is above the law no matter how mighty and great. Something in the earnest eloquent spirit of the man is saying to us, it might be, it just might be that a great leader of mankind is in the making. The moral bankruptcy of our world is so dire that there is a sad dearth of leaders of vision. Obama, there is something in the fibre of your voice that carries moral authority. Is this the moral authority of the island or of the continent? I know that I speak a as a poet and as an artist. I know that I lack political schooling and grooming. I know that I am naive and in the game of power my voice does not count. Never the less, I believe in goodness, wholesomeness, honour, generosity, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defending the weak, and most of all I believe in love and life. Will this entitle me to be heard, entitle me to send an open letter to you Mr. President? You declared: We reject as false the choice between our safety and ideals. But what is the definition of ideals? As I reiterate, I ask: are they the universal ideals of mankind, or the ideals of the select and the elite? I am like you, I cannot allow myself to forget the great words of the great poets and teachers of humanity: No man is an island entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… You have inherited a bitter legacy indeed. A world at war in many of its parts, a world where many poor and torn countries walk in the darkness inflicted upon them and whose wealth was squandered and economy sabotaged by avarice and greed. Yours is the legacy bequeathed by an unrelenting ruthless administration, that was, which wreaked havoc on a global scale and sawed the seeds of devastation and division, preaching the morality of shame. A network of terrible violence and hatred did come into being because a great nation and its fellow big powers failed to address the roots of violence and to acknowledge the old festering wrongs and wounds. When the greatest powers of the world fail to heal, the results are famine, hunger, disease, massacres, wars and blind insane destruction. Mr. President, I quote you: the time has come to…choose our better history…the God-given promise that all are equal; all are free and deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. These words which are derived from the Bill of Rights are noble in sentiment and spirit. Only they should not apply exclusively to America and the Western world. There is a whole world outside which is hungry for justice and clamouring for happiness. You went on to say, Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. Do we dare hope that all this we can do, and all this we will do. Mr President, the world can no longer afford to avoid the greatest law of all, the law of moral imperatives. The policies of interests, greed, narrow narcissistic national ambitions and welfare, or the geopolitical policies of world domination and dividing the spoils can no longer hold the world together or ensure peace in the world. Humanity is at the crossroads. I believe the Syrian question is going to be much more far reaching than the Russians, Iran, China or the hesitant nations of the world would like to confine it to. The one million children refugees outside Syria and the estimated at least 2 millions inside Syria are not going to go away, not to mention that a regime bent on annihilating its people and cities by any lethal means available to it is not going to give up, no matter what wishful thinking about peace the world might harbour. Mister president, the Syrians have a dream that one day freedom will ring from one hilltop to another, from their villages, from their earth and from their skies, that freedom will ring from their sacred olive groves, that freedom will ring from the ruins of the great city of Aleppo, from Homs, Al-Ghouta and the squandered heritage of Syria? They have a dream that they will no longer live in ghettos slums and refugee camps, that somehow this situation can and will be changed., that they will not wallow in the valley of despair forever. They have a dream. The Syrians have a dream that the world led by the United States will act out of compassion and morality, not out of the enshrined principles of self-interest, world domination and exploitation of the weaker nations. The Syrians are not their dictators nor are they Al-Qaeda and associates who have no historical roots in Syria but would like to do so. Will it one day be said of you: a good man walked among us and we and our world are the better for it.
Alisar Iram British Syrian poet, artist, writer
* Most of the quotations in italics are from Obama’s first inauguration speech in January 2009. The rest of the quotations are from Martin Luther King’s famous speech I have a dream and from the English poet John Donne.
I received the reply below from the President to my open letter, via the White House: