Sunday, February 20, 2005

About Greatness, Tsunami Tragedy and America

What makes a great person great? My uncle asked me once, and then volunteered an answer: To act great. You can’t lead if you only push. You need to set a good example for people to follow. There will be occasions when only the great ones can make a stand, a lead, and a difference. It is not easy, simple or free. You pay to be great. Stands cost you, setting examples tax you, and leading a crowd requires time, intelligence and effort. You can’t be a leader, even by force, if you are selfish. Sometimes you must sacrifice your own interests for those you lead.
Not all people are up to it and can afford it, but those who do deserve our utmost love, trust and respect. They earn our loyalty and obedience. They are the best.
People recognize greatness when they see it in deeds, more than in words. Even the simple ones can distinguish the great ones from the bullies; the righteous from the false, the selfless from the selfish, those who care for them, and those who only care for themselves.
I used to argue that sometimes people could be fooled. Satan has the greatest following. Hitler persuaded his people and led them to disaster.
Stalin and Mao pushed them to catastrophe. Castro, Nasser and Saddam fooled and pushed their way to “greatness”. Not all great ones are great after all, and there is more than an ideal way to be one.
Uncle was adamant, I thought then: You can fool some people all the time, or all people sometime, but you cannot fool all people all the time. All your examples, Khaled, are of leaders who either stole their status or faked it. History exposed and put them in the black lists of great disasters.
My uncle is dead now. I wish he waited a little longer. I wanted to tell him how right he was. Weeks after his departure, tsunami hit and put our great ones on trial. Few proved themselves worthy of greatness; most were caught naked.
When America and its Western allies stood up to Saddam Hussein in 1991, I thought the world had finally found its leadership. USA and company were the Great Ones who would rewrite the world order, as they tried after World War 1, and succeeded after World War II.
During my study years in the States, Bill Clinton convinced me that not only America was great, it meant well for the rest of us. I saw a great example to follow, a beautiful people to love, and a caring, libertarian leadership to admire. Then came Mr. Bush Junior. Then came the first trial, 9/11. Then came the murderous responses in Afghanistan and Iraq. And I am not so sure anymore.
US and Bush’s initial performance in tsunami test was another proof, as if more proofs were needed, that mighty America is not fit to lead the world. They do have the muscles, but they don’t have the warm heart, the selfless soul and the moral, ethical code.
As my friend, Egyptian political analyst, Abdulmonaem Mustafa, puts it: America’s Bush showed once more its real face. When it was their dead and interests at stake, they created a formidable coalition and led the world into wars that cost hundreds of billions dollars. But when some two hundreds thousands were killed in Asia, the president of the super empire didn’t even say: I’m sorry.
He stayed put on in his holiday retreat watching as half the world was in ruin. His neoconservative team managed only a short statement and a shorter help — a stingy $15 million.
When a deafening outcry came out from all corners of the civilized world, another 10 million was added and a longer statement released. Finally, under fire, domestic as well as global, the leader of the Free World moved and did what should have been done in Hour Zero of Day One. America finally led global effort to save millions more of victims and help organize countries and people to cope with the catastrophe. Still, Japan, the No. 2 economic powerhouse donated $500 million to America’s $350 million.
The world is in dire need of a great leadership. Morally bankrupt US authority has just proved once again it only cares for its own.
The case is made again for a multilateral world order.
We need a system that is free from self-interests and US dependence. We very much need a new UN with more authority and power, more democratic, transparent mechanism and fair share of influence, more of the world and less of USA.
Yes, Uncle Omar, greatness can only last if it is really, truly great.

No comments: