George Graham

Making a Difference

Sometimes I get downhearted. I ask myself what’s the use? The rich get richer and the poor get children no matter what anyone does. This bad ol’ world just isn’t going to change, etc., etc. …

Take President Obama, America’s first black president, the symbol of hope for a racially divided world. Talk about high hopes!

Let’s face it, things haven’t worked out as I dreamed they would. America’s election of a non-white president has triggered an explosion of racial acrimony and fierce bigotry when I had envisioned the dawning of the age of Aquarius, an awakening of brotherhood from sea to shining sea…

Well intentioned though he undoubtedly is, election of a biracial president has not brought us ethnic harmony – or anything close to it. Indeed, his legacy will include tragic failures as well as grand successes.

Even health care reform, President Obama’s flagship achievement, seems to be leaving as many wounds as it is healing.

Of course it isn’t his fault. The deck was stacked against him from the start. Perhaps it couldn’t be done after all. Perhaps the change we dreamed of was a bridge too far.

But before I give in to despair, I must in fairness acknowledge the myriad acts of tolerance and justice that he has managed to perform along the way. I am sure homosexuals, especially in the military, will look back on the Obama presidency as a period of enlightenment, for example. And young women, struggling to balance the consequences of love and life … they will surely remember the Obama Administration as a compassionate ally.

In a multitude of ways, big and small, this president has acted with tolerance and forbearance to leave a better America behind when he returns to private life. But the media have not  focused so much on those policies. The spotlight has been on Congressional gridlock, political conflict and racial bitterness.

And then I read a news item that makes me realize there may be another way of looking at things. In this morning’s news, for example, the following headline gives a glimpse of a compassionate America, one over which a truly human being presides:

Obama plans clemency for hundreds of drug offenders

How can you not stand up and cheer? In a cruel, unfair world, something kind, sensible and ultimately productive is in the works. I am sure I don’t have to remind you of the waste, the injustice and the heartbreak of the way America’s justice system deals with drug “offenders” big and small.

You know about it, I know about it, everybody knows about it, but nobody has done much to end it.

But somebody is finally doing something to soften the brutal impact of those twisted policies.

And that somebody is Barack Obama.

Click to read about the clemency program.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for