Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A letter to Barack Obama on my 28th birthday

Dear President Obama:

Today, on my birthday, the world is celebrating something far more significant than the anniversary of my birth. Even I am regarding this day as not mine, but yours. For today you embark on an incredible journey that I with my 28 years of life experience cannot fully apprehend, and would never dare undertake.

I have long admired you, but now I find myself in awe of you. Today you accept an enormous responsibility, one that has grown exponentially not just since your country went into economic recession, but as far back as when your esteemed predecessor made the brilliant decision of going to war. Today you are knowingly and willingly inheriting a nation on the brink of some form of collapse, which makes you either the biggest idiot in modern America's history (second to George W. Bush), or its potential messiah.

You are also sacrificing perhaps a bit more than the presidents who went before you, for you face a very real danger from people who refuse to come to terms with an African-American president. And yet today you are officially putting your security and safety, and that of your family's, at risk in order to lead your country during this very trying time, no matter how thankless the job or bleak the outlook.

For all I know, you might be clueless, confused, and absolutely terrified as you assume office. But today, at least, I am certain you will once more display the quiet confidence and calm sagacity that belie your relative inexperience, and that have inspired the billions who witnessed the remarkable campaign you ran in 2008. Yes, throughout your term as president, you will feel lost and helpless. You will falter, and you will fail on occasion. You may, tragically, even fall. But because the fears and apprehensions of your nation and the international community are being thrust upon you, today you will be brave enough for all of us. Today we need you to be brave for all of us.

Today, even as I turn another year older, you make me feel young, because you make me feel hopeful. You have restored in a generation of cynics to which I belong the ability to believe once more-- in change, in progress, in unity, in human decency. You have reminded us that yes we can grasp possibility, yes we can create our own destiny, yes we can make a difference. You have rekindled our passion and given us renewed reason to care, beyond our individual lives and our own countries. Today, you stand as a symbol of all that's right with the world, even as everything is going so patently wrong.

I sometimes wonder if I am not more than a little foolish in my hero worship of you, especially considering I'm not even American. But in my fellow Filipinos, I see the same admiration and respect for you. Yes, Mr. President, this is how far-reaching your influence and inspiration are: today, the people of a Third World island nation in Asia are cheering you on, looking to you for the ideals and principles and moral character that we no longer find in our own government leaders. You represent what should be, and what could be. Today, more than ever, the scrutinizing eye of the world is trained on you. And more importantly, today, the world pins its
collective faith and hopes on you.

Today is not so much my birthday as it is yours, for with your inauguration as President of the United States, people across the globe who still hold fast to the values of democracy, liberty, equality and integrity are wishing you well, and celebrating that you exist as a living example of those values. Today we salute you, all that you might become, and all that you might help us become. And today, in turn, gives birth to a tomorrow that could be better and brighter for all of us.

Because of you, Mr. President, today is a happy birthday.

Sincerely yours,
Aileesa Lim
Manila, Philippines


At Wednesday, January 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Ms Lim! I forgot to greet you a happy birthday! Sorry and belated. :) A very memorable birthday indeed!

At Wednesday, January 21, 2009, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Thank you Christa! :)


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