ST. KITTS – Dr. The Honorable Denzil L. Douglas Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis issued the following statement on the U.S. Presidential ELECTIONS during his “Ask the P.M.” on Tuesday, November 4th.
Today, the people of the United States will choose their 44th president. On the ballot are two men with impressive careers of public service – Senator John McCain of Arizona, and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. As a government that honors the sacred right of all people to choose who would govern them, we will applaud the will of the American people – whatever the outcome – and look forward to working with whomever the people of the United States chooses to lead them over the next four years.
There is something different about this election, however. And it has generated intense interest and excitement in every corner of the globe. And because Senator Obama is of African descent, the utterly brilliant race he has run against the most powerful and impressive opponents in both the Republican and Democratic Parties, fills us – also people of African descent – with a sense of awe, and wonder, and hope, and pride. It fills us anew with a sense of life’s possibilities….it makes us think about our own capabilities. It reminds us, as individuals and as a nation, of what is possible when there is discipline…..dignity…..perseverance. It reminds us – with electrifying clarity – of what is possible when there is a commitment to excellence.
No-one knows what the American people will decide today. But what we do know is that based purely on logic…..on history……on statistical probabilities…….and on political reality, it was supposed to be IMPOSSIBLE for Barack Obama to have scaled these dizzying heights. It was supposed to be impossible for him to have run what everyone everywhere acknowledges was the most disciplined and brilliant political race in American history. But he has. And in the process he has won the love, the respect, and the fervent prayers, not only of black Americans, not only of white Americans, not only of Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, but, as I have said, of people all over the world.
This has been Barack Obama’s gift to us – as people of African descent.
His gift has been his example – and that example has shattered and blown to bits the most awful and painful stereotypes.
So, the question is – what do we owe to him – and to each other?
My fellow nationals, let us praise and celebrate Barack Obama’s accomplishments. But let us not stop there. It is not enough to simply grab the fruits of his hard work and discipline in celebration. We must also give back to him – and to each other.
What can we learn from Barack Obama?
He was born into a humble home – but he had a mother and grandparents who loved him….guided him…..shaped him. Indeed his mother would make him rise early to do his homework and would sit with him just to encourage him. We, as parents and grandparents, have a responsibility not just to feed and clothe, but to shape and mold.
Obama’s father was a brilliant, confident, and well-respected man who, though not wealthy as a child growing up in Kenya, was at the very top of his graduating class at the University of Hawaii, and then went on to study at Harvard. Obama did not grow up with his father, but hearing these stories about his father as a boy greatly inspired him. Whatever our station in life, all of us have an obligation to be examples to our children.
As a teenager, Obama went through a period when he was both sad and lost. His life could have gone either way. But he found his way back. As adults, we must reach out not only to our own children, but to any child who seems to be losing their way. There is often greater potential beneath the confusion and despair of the young than meets the eye.
Most importantly, throughout his childhood, what Obama’s mother instilled in him, with greatest dedication and steadfastness, was the importance of empathy and compassion….a concern for others. As a man, this became his guiding philosophy – and this has been, really, the clarion call of his campaign – that we are our brothers keeper. We in this country must recognize the stabilizing power of this philosophy.
As a university student, Barack Obama committed himself to the pursuit of excellence. And that, as prime minister, is what I have always wanted for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. The point is not for everyone to become president of the United States. The point is for us, as a people, to be a nation of standards. The point is for us to work together to build a society that is safe and stable and good. The point is for us, as a people, to build on – not detract from – what Barack Obama has, through extraordinarily hard work and discipline, given to people of African descent everywhere.
Let us strive, not only to respect and admire Barack Obama, but to earn the respect and admiration each other – based on how we live our lives…..how we treat each other….how we conduct ourselves. Let us all, as parents and teachers…..as farmers and doctors……as engineers and factory workers, domestic workers and politicians, commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence.
We have a nation to build and a destiny to shape.
Let us do so by ensuring that the atmosphere in our homes is filled with neither indifference nor hostility.
Let us do so by ensuring that our culture is defined by neither “dutty wine” nor “hot wuk”.
Let us do so by ensuring that our politics is dominated by neither personal hostility or tribal divisiveness.
Let us do so by understanding the global significance of this day – no matter what the poll results say – to people of African descent everywhere.
And let us do so, by building on all that Barack Obama, this son of Africa, has so painstakingly built.