Why I Remember President Truman on a Regular Basis?

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

First published in January, 2013

Since the collapse of USSR, the President of USA, may be considered to be the most powerful person on the planet, with a state of the art army and countless nuclear weapons at his or her disposal.  Anyone, friend and foe alike, will stand in awe and will jump at an invitation from the White House, to meet the President.

Many may think of the sitting President on a regular basis, as the news media keeps bombarding us with his activities on a daily basis.  So, one can think or hear about President Barack Hussein Obama on a regular basis and I do.  Thanks to the media and also to my day dreaming, for sometimes I reflect that I do share the middle name with him and may be, just may be some day, I can enjoy a small portion of his influence and have something more in common, in addition to the name, God willing.

Obama is a common household name, but, most of us do not remember William Henry Harrison, as he was the shortest serving US President.

Harrison died on his 32nd day in the office, of complications from pneumonia, serving the shortest tenure in United States presidential history. His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis, but that crisis ultimately resolved many questions about presidential succession left unanswered by the Constitution until passage of the 25th Amendment.

Some Presidents are better known than others, like President George Washington, President Thomas Jefferson, President Abraham Lincoln, President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton, for what they have done for humanity at large, rather than just serving their parochial groups.

It is not humanly possible to remember all the Presidents of USA on a regular basis as there have been 44 of them so far.  So, many do not get much public attention in this day and age.  I have not seen or heard most of us obsess over President Harry S Truman, who was the 33rd President of USA.  But, I do, as exception to the general rule.

I do that not because of Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan leading to a speedy end of WWII, a decision that remains controversial.  I obsess over him, not because he successfully concluded World War II.  He is in my thoughts, not because, he assisted in the founding of the United Nations. Not because, he issued the Truman Doctrine to contain communism.  Not because, he passed the $12 billion Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe.  But, because of his one short quote!

I often remember him for a one liner attributed to him, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

I think about him and his quote, every time my work as a physician, as a writer and as an editor, is ignored, not appreciated and taken for granted.  His quote consoles me, gives me hope and inspiration to keep going.  When I analyze myself, in my more honest moments, I find that I do care who gets the credit and especially care about, who gets the blame.

But, I do try to lead a life as if I do not care about the credit.

If a writer writes well to serve humanity and the Muslim Times’ vision of universal brotherhood and sisterhood, then I care not, if the writer is an Ahmadi Muslim, a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, an agnostic or an atheist.  I publish or republish him or her, in the Muslim Times, as the Chief Editor of the Muslim Times.

If an article is useful for the readers of the Muslim Times, I care not if it is published in CNN, BBC, the Huffington Post or an unknown newspaper of a third world country.  I care not, who gets the credit, as long as the readers benefit.

If a person has taken a useful position about separation of church-mosque and state, to facilitate our co-existence in our global village, and stuck his or her neck out, I care not if the person is the President of the sole super power of the world or a mayor of a small unknown town or village, I will cover him or her, here in the Muslim Times.  I care not for the station in life of the person and who gets the credit.

May be, if I keep practicing Truman’s vision long enough it will become my second nature. Some day, I will completely stop caring for the credit or worrying about the blame.  But, I have not reached my destination.  Not yet.  Not completely, not in the depths of my unconscious, my emotions and deep thoughts.

So, I seek guidance from my scripture, the Holy Quran.  I find, for a believer in an Omniscient God, random acts of goodness should come easily and spontaneously  without any pretension.  For the All Knowing God has said in the Holy Quran that He will reward even the smallest acts of goodness, so, why worry about the worldly credit.  He says in the Holy Quran:

Whoso makes a righteous intercession shall have a share thereof, and whoso …; and Allah is Powerful over everything. (Al Quran 4:85/86)


And remember when Luqman said to his son while exhorting him, ‘O my dear son! associate not partners with Allah. Surely, associating partners with God is a grievous wrong.’ … O my dear son! even though it be the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and even though it be in a rock, or in the heavens, or in the earth, Allah will surely bring it out; indeed, Allah is the Knower of all subtleties, All-Aware.  (Al Quran 31:13-16/14-17)

As I analyze myself, in the light of these verses, I find that I do not yet embody these Quranic verses, in my life and my character.  Then I realize that spirituality is a life long journey.  God may, out of His sheer Grace, give me years to catch up.  A complete resignation to the will of God and a complete trust in His judgment, for reward or punishment, is a long road.  I am not there yet.  May be some day …


Categories: Highlight, Psychology

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