Editorial: Enacting global progress as a global leader


President Obama finished a weekend-long trip to Kenya on Sunday, where he truly embodied his role not only as the president of the United States but also a world leader on a truly global scale. The president touched on numerous sensitive issues in speeches over the course of the weekend, ranging from LGBT acceptance to terrorism, despite vocal apprehension on the part of the Kenyan government to discuss same-sex marriage and equality.

Some could say Obama overstepped his role as a visiting leader given that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta stated, “The issue of gay rights is really a nonissue” and that extends to the general attitude toward homosexuality across the continent of Africa.

South Africa is the only country on the continent that has legalized gay marriage, and in numerous African countries same-sex intercourse is still considered an offense punishable by law. However, as the leader of a country that stands on certain ideals of freedom and equality, the Obama’s responsibilities to uphold said ideals do not end at the borders of our country.

A world leader has an obligation to voice the values of the constituency he or she represents, especially when it regards what should be a universal right in addition to opening dialogue on a global scale. The president’s opinion on same-sex equality may have been unpopular in Kenya, but that does not negate the need to address that issue or any other that necessitates change, or, at the very least, reconsidering such.

We live in a time in which policy can be discussed, changed, and implemented on scales never before seen through globalized borders and communication. A close-minded attitude toward even opening up a conversation limits the amount of possible international progression.

According to the Pew Research Center, 22 countries across the globe currently recognize gay marriage and, as such, it needs to be addressed on such a scale. The only way the conversation can move forward is if world leaders are willing to engage the topic in a manner that reflects the current interconnected nature of national relations, as opposed to the traditional unilateral approach that breeds inequality and bigotry.    

At times, our preconceived notions must take the backseat in order to make room for progress, and Obama spoke on this idea by saying, “Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Globalization has provided new opportunities for world leaders to come together and further move the world to a place of true equality and understanding that defies all borders, both geographical and ideological. The only hindrance of traversal is reluctance on the part of our world leaders to take advantage of these opportunities.

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