“Words and numbers are equally important…it’s the thought behind them that speak and count more.”~PITA POLICY
Intelligence, humor, leadership, and innovation catapult our notable American Influencers into Time magazine’s 100 Influencers. As an American-Muslim, who specializes in political economy of the Middle East & North African region (MENA), I’m inspired by Time’s 100 Influencers: Joseph Stiglitz, Amy Poehler, Michelle Obama & Ron Bruder in launching PITA POLICY! (http://www.PITAPOLICY.com serves as a political economy website focusing on the MENA region.) As a humanist, I am proud that nine are Muslim heroes to Americans and global citizens; and that many hail from MENA. These nine indicate that philanthropy, business, economy, the arts, spirituality, journalism, and the law influence for the better of humanity—not just Muslims.
When Joseph Stiglitz spoke at my graduation’s commencement ceremony at Georgetown, his words infused me with confidence that someone who appreciates the power of numbers, may one day supplement the power of words. Economists need not run to the financial service world; they may enter public service and leverage their cost benefit analysis to address general welfare as the US determines its destiny beyond recession and deficit war spending.
Amy Poehler represents how Americans need the humor to snap back into reality when we have made miscalculations or taken missteps. God knows that I have gotten my cynicism checked by Poehler’s wit on Saturday Night Live, Parks & Recreations, and the “Mighty Bee.” (There’s nothing wrong with being perky.) If you can laugh past it, then you can move forward to address the next set of challenges. Perhaps that is why my generation runs on a daily dose of fake news provided by Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert: humor serves as our “checks and balances” on punditry, which “checks” our politicians.
Michelle Obama’s efforts to civically engage on American family challenges, like healthy eating and supporting veterans, remind me that American values mean we take responsbility for our choices—whether it be facing the consequences of poor diet or recognizing that our veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress syndrome or deserve fair health treatment and housing—like their American compatriots.
Rod Bruder’s innovation addresses the very challenge that international development communities try to incorporate within their strategic plans. Specifically, Bruder picks a side in the “demographic gift” versus the “demographic bulge” debate. While Middle East Analysts and academics continually assess the Arab Spring and the successful political reovolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, they point out that the youth still need to be engaged economically, not just politically. Thus, his organization, Education for Employment Foundation, targets thousands under the age of 35 in Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, and Morocco. Moreover, EFE recognizes that the West Bank & Gaza experience 92.5 percent literacy, thereby resulting in an employable population. As such, EFE partners with a range of universities like Birzeit, Colorado State and Islamic University to train accountants, project managers, among others.
As a humanist, I am proud that 9 are Muslim heroes to Americans and global citizens. Specifically, I feel inspired by the breadth and diversity of gender, occupation, and philosophical persuasion by this year’s influencers: 1) Maria Bashir~Law Enforcer; 2) Fathi Terbil~HR Lawyer; 3) Saad Mohseni~Media Moghul; 4) Wael Ghonim~Activist; 5) Feisal Abdul Rauf~Preacher; 6) El General~Tunisian Rapper; 7) Ayman Mohyeldin~Journalist; 8) Azim Premji~Philanthropist & 9) Ahmed Shuja Pasha. Although, Time’s 100 Influencers also include some infamous Muslims, I reflect upon how they symbolize the minority of many Muslim Americans—just as they make up only 4 percent of the list. (4 of the 5 Rogues’ Gallery list Muslim figures who are deemed as infamous.) Futhermore, I am relieved that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated from the manufactured “ideological” debate. Bin Laden no longer may claim to speak for Muslims, or any global citizen. But more importantly, what gives me comfort is that more Muslims have risen to the occasion to produce positive impact for all global citizens—not just Muslims. Intelligence, humor, leadership, and innovation are the values that Time reminds me are respected throughout our economic, political, cultural, spiritual, and social global villages.