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Today President Obama presented 16 Medals of Freedom.  On July 30th, BarbinMd had a story about the recipients: . I can't find any other comments or diaries about Muhammad Yunus from the last year.

One of today's recipients was Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, the inventer of the concept of microfinance. The idea is to give tiny loans--maybe only $30--to poor villagers, originally all women, to help them start tiny businesses. Huge mountains of prejudice need to be overcome. The program has been SPECTACULARLY successful, and it is now expanding all around the globe, even into the United States. Some of the best examples are in poor areas of New York City.

You can read more about him here: .

He won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, which is when I first heard of him, and later that year first heard him speak.

This will be a very short diary, since I'm very tired from another emergency appeal brief.

I just saw Mr. Yunus speaking at the National Press Club in Washington on C-SPAN.  The man is a saint for our times.  He radiates a kind of calm and clarity and spiritual conviction that is amazingly inspiring and refreshing.

He truly believes we can totally wipe out global poverty and injustice by turning to a new model of business that he calls "social business," which is business for the sake of goals beyond making money.

Westerners habitually laugh at this kind of thing--except that he's doing better with all of his incredibly many enterprises all around the globe than 99 percent of western bankers.

He has a luminous look in his eyes that, I believe, is clearly the look of a real saint.

I had a client from Bangladesh, a Ph.D., who was a disciple of his, spreading the ideas of microfinance around the world. These are people to watch!  These are people to pray for.  These are people to follow.

Originally posted to Timaeus on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 05:59 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One of my favorite people (10+ / 0-)

    (among those I don't actually know).

    His true stroke of genius was not loaning money to the men in communities but to the women.  Having responsible hands on the loot has begun to move the world forward.

  •  Obama's awards were just wonderful -- (11+ / 0-)

    I was truly excited and emotional watching today. Finally recognition for positive efforts by positive, decent, effective people. It has been a long time coming.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 06:04:52 PM PDT

  •  tip & rec (4+ / 0-)

    Banks, like all businesses, used to be required to operate in the public interest. Of course that requirement was eliminated in the interests of the greater Greed.

    you can call it Class's really self defence

    by Karl Rover on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 06:10:19 PM PDT

  •  I wish you'd... (0+ / 0-)

    ...find another word besides "saint" to show your high regard for this man.

    •  A saint is a person who exercises heroic virtue. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sberel, BigAlinWashSt

      It is a common term throughout every civilization on earth.

      Your comment is churlish and narrow-minded.

      What term would you prefer? I'm sorry, but I think saint is exactly the correct term.

      •  a "saint" (0+ / 0-)

        is a Roman Catholic designation for someone who devoted their life to that particular faith and was recognized by the papacy for it. I sincerely doubt that that term was used in every civilization on Earth. I've not seen in used in any Chinese history texts but maybe I just missed it. Yes, it may be a churlish observation. "Extraordinary humanitarian" could be an alternative. Tinging every facet of American life with religious undertones is not a healthy means of expression. Just my beef. Nothing to get excited about.

      •  Not exactly. (0+ / 0-)

        A Saint is someone who is divinely inspired and who is by definition Saved.  There's an entire process to determine whether they were actually a saint or not, they have to have worked literal miracles among other criteria.....

        ....including that they have to be dead.  Your soul has to be in Heaven for you to be Beatified.

        •  No, you missed the entire point of the thread (0+ / 0-)

          above. Total fail.

        •  Corwin, you're stating the Roman Catholic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          idea of a saint. I'm Roman Catholic, and I do actually think that Muhammad Yusuf is probably a saint by Catholic standards.

          But that's not what I said in the diary. I'm just saying he is a "saint" by human standards. And as I've been arguing here, that is a term accepted all around the world in most or all traditions, not just the Catholic tradition.

          •  From the Latin..... (0+ / 0-)

            ...Sanctus.... and the Greek haigos.  Both meaning 'holy.'

            You can make the argument that it's an Orthodox term as well.... but not the 'all religions have them' you were pushing.

            •  That's a preposterous comment. (0+ / 0-)

              Do you understand that most of the world does not speak English or Latin or Greek?

              But they have the same CONCEPT, expressed in different cultures in different ways.

              Don't you understand that there are Muslim saints, for example?

              •  Show me the Muslim.... (0+ / 0-)

                ...Devil's Advocate.  Beatification tribunal.

                What people are telling you is that sainthood is actually a very specific concept.... not just a term for 'a nice person.'  You don't get to make up those rules.

                •  Your comment indicates a kind of rigidity that, (0+ / 0-)

                  I must say, is indicative of certain kinds of mental illness.

                  Let me think of an analogy to show how wrong you are.

                  Suppose we have a term like "automobile."  Such things exist all around the world. In France, they call them "voitures," if I remember correctly. Almost every country has a different term for it. But they're all frickin' AUTOMOBILES.

                  Now, in the United States, we have certain regulatory standards for automobiles. Another country, such as India or China, may not have the same regulatory standards.

                  You're saying that a Chinese automobile is not an automobile because it doesn't comply with U.S. regulatory standards for automobiles.

                  If you don't understand that, I regret to say that you're too stupid to be posting here. The average IQ here is at least 120.

                  •  A Chinese automobile..... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...isn't an automobile if it doesn't burn fuel, have wheels and move people or goods.

                    Putting a hood ornament on it and calling it a car will not, in fact, make it a car.  Nor will calling someone who informs you that it in fact is not a car of substandard intelligence, nor will it make you any less of an asshole.  It also will not make you right.

                    Just sayin'.

        •  thank you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Corwin Weber

          I assumed that was common knowledge.

    •  Considering all the warmongers and the greed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in this world, maybe saint is appropriate for people like this.

      "Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by understanding" Albert Einstein

      by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 06:19:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see how... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Corwin Weber, BigAlinWashSt

        ... ascribing religious status to anyone in any way negates either warmongering or greed. I could be wrong. I have been at times. But your contention doesn't make much sense to me. I'm not trying to be obtuse here so by all means ignore my input.

        •  No, I understand. Perhaps our culture has (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          oversued the word to the point that its meaning can be taken outside of the religious boundaries.  Such as the grandma who exclaims to her grandson after he brings her flowers, "You're such a saint"!  Not really meaning it in a religious sense but someone who does very good.  
          P.S.  A quick search of definitions didn't really support my theory! :)

          "Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by understanding" Albert Einstein

          by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 07:07:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My cursory glance didn't either. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            A quick Wikipedia search has some vague "saint-like" connotations from some other belief systems but throughout it seems to refer to a "holy" person so the term is really only applicable to a religious figure with a pious biography and/or miraculous abilities. I'll keep looking but it seems to be one of those things that crept into the vernacular....I wasn't trying to be insulting, I just think that language is important if we are going to be able to communicate with each other effectively.

            •  Oh good grief. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Look at .

              And do a google on "Muslim saint"

              and, say, "Hindu saint" .

              For what it's worth, I majored in religion and philosophy, and I've read widely in religious works from all around the world, so this seems kind of obvious to me. But I do understand it's new to people learning it for the first time.

              •  No need to be condescending. (0+ / 0-)

                I wasn't suggesting that you weren't properly educated. I read both of those entries. They describe alternate words that could be roughly translated as someone exhibiting the same qualities as the Christian "saint". And that is a person who exemplifies the teaching of those particular religions, a person who is outstanding in their adherence to the tenets of the faith. I didn't see any arhats, bhagats or swamis that weren't connected to a religion. No atheist do-gooders thusly honored. Not that this guy need be an non-believer, I'm just saying that all of those considered "saints" are part of the religion so labelling them. And as I said, I'll keep looking. My three years in a Catholic seminary may have screwed with my perception on the matter. I won't take your word for it but will research the matter in depth and see what I see.  

                •  You spent three years in a Catholic (0+ / 0-)

                  seminary and now your nick is "drawingporno"? Well, we all have issues. If I were you, I'd start over with a more neutral nick, because that one is going to cause you much more trouble over time than you probably realize.

                  I never said the term saint is not connected to the concept of holiness, and hence religion.

                  However, I would maintain that Bertrand Russell, one of my all time heroes, is a saint. And he was an atheist. And I could give many other examples.

                  There is a STRONG anti-religion bias at DKos. There is also what I maintain is the DKos Atheism Cult, a group of militant atheists who fit all the criteria for a cult. But there are also MANY believers here.

                  Since the purpose of the site is to elect Democrats, not to advance non-political philosophical and religious views, the believers and the non-believers just have to live together. I think the non-believers are wrong, but I want their votes--although there aren't many of them.

                  •  hmmm.... (0+ / 0-)

                    I've been a successful, respected and widely published pornographic illustrator for almost thirty years and don't have "issues" about it. I leave that kind of silliness to others....

                    •  So you agree with all my other points. (0+ / 0-)
                      •  no. (0+ / 0-)
                        1. I don't acknowledge that you have the ecclesiastic authority to confer "sainthood" on anyone.
                        1. I consider a "cult" an organization wherein the followers have a "leader" or well-defined dogma. Members are those who congregate in order to reinforce group cohesion and behavioral orthodoxy. There is no individual to whom atheists look for (non)spiritual guidance.  I do not make a point of meeting like-minded folks for the express purpose of having my (non)beliefs reaffirmed by concensus.
                        1. I think the liberal, educated and aware DKos regulars are more likely agnostics than true believers so I don't accept your ratio.

                         So again, your use of a religious referencing is inappropriate, your conclusions faulty and your attitude contrarian. But if it works for you, fine. It's all good.

                        •  Ha. (0+ / 0-)
                          1. Of course I'm not asserting "eccleasiastic authority" to confer anything. That's a crock of shit.
                          1. Your understanding of "cult" is ignorant. I don't know whether you're a member of the DKos Atheist Cult yet, but you sure sound like it in this nonsense paragraph.
                          1. Good for you. You're wrong.

                          But note that you didn't actually address most of what I've said.

                          And note that you've highjacked the diary. What in hell does any of this have to do with the great Muhammad Yunus?  Your indifference to that condemns you to your self-sought mediocrity.

                          And yes, I don't have any respect for anybody who would devote thirty years to drawing pornography. I just think that's sad.

                          •  Hahahahahaha!!!! (0+ / 0-)

                            No need to froth. I made a very casual remark about word usage. I wasn't attacking either you or the very admirable and remarkable Muhammad Yunus. You are the one who continued to hijack your own diary by being pompously defensive while marshaling defective, nonsupportive arguments and personal vitriol. No, I wouldn't expect you to respect my livelihood but I enjoy it and have had a wonderful time with it for close to three decades. Not many people can do what they love and get an income out of it. I imagine that you think pornography is "evil". Luckily, I've been able to design a life for myself whereby I never have to come in contact with judgmental, slightly hysterical and narrow-minded characters in person.
                            PS. "Good for you. You're wrong." That's showing me up with empirical data. Hahahaha!!!!!!  

  •  Good man and ideas. Yusuf Islam (6+ / 0-)

    played Peace Train at that Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

    "Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by understanding" Albert Einstein

    by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 06:12:59 PM PDT

  •  "Westerners laugh at this sort (0+ / 0-)
    of thing.". You haven't followed this stuff, I see; Westerners looooove this stuff (hence the nobel)

    We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

    by burrow owl on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 06:18:53 PM PDT

  •  No, he is not a saint, he is just an economist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Corwin Weber

    who merged the agreeable with the useful.

    Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

    by Mutual Assured Destruction on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 06:45:48 PM PDT

  •  Tipped & Rec'd for the positivity of the man (3+ / 0-)

    and all the recipients... that ceremony was beautiful and I will not let the idiots steal my joy to today!

    Thank you for your heartfelt enthusiasm also...Yunus certainly qualifies as a times like these we need more people like him

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt . -- George Eliot

    by fedupcitizen on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 06:49:19 PM PDT

  •  I'm kind of disappointed to see relatively (4+ / 0-)

    little attention to this diary, compared to so much attention on the current uber-issue of the health care town halls. But I understand that't the way of this site, and worse fates befall many diary on important issues that is much more detailed and better written than this one.

    But I do at least hope that a few souls here will have the name "Yunus" stick in their minds.

    What he is saying, and doing, is really just extraordinary. I can hardly believe it. It goes against everything I've sucked up from American culture through osmosis about society, and economics, and charity, and so forth.

    He is opposed to charity. He is in favor of enabling impoverished people to support themselves.

    Radical. Hard to believe it can work in the United States, but apparently it does, at least in some programs.

    There is an innocence and purity about his vision that just absolutely knocks me down. I hope some of you might want to look for that too, especially some younger and wiser than me.

    •  Yunus is an inspirational man (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, sberel

      As you note, watching and listening to Yunus brings one to the table of mankind. You experience something bigger than yourself and it pulls you. In a good direction.

      It not only brought a big warm smile to my face when I read that Obama had chosen Yunus, it brought a sense of balance and a peaceful balm that we can do it this way, we can make better decisions and we can change the world and bend that arc toward justice.

      <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

      by bronte17 on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 08:34:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really beautifully said. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bronte17, sberel

        I love that expression: "listening to Yunus brings one to the table of mankind."

        Oh that is so true!

        Thank you!

        Somebody should nominate this miserable little diary as a Rescued Diary. I've never had one of those in more than five years. This one really deserves it, not for me, but for Mr. Yunus.

        •  I'm not a Rescue Ranger. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Timaeus, sberel

          The best I can do is nominate one of the better comments and pull the diary with it into tomorrow's Top Comments so more people can share it.

          And remember, many people are traveling this evening to the Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh. So, it's a slow night around here. And the next four days will be back-to-back NN diaries.

          <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

          by bronte17 on Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 09:17:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh I know. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bronte17, sberel


            That's the first time I have EVER tried to pimp one of my own diaries in any way, as far as I can remember.

            But Mr. Yunus really doesn't need me, after all, he he.

            His ideas really get under the skin. I'm half asleep by now, pondering whether there is any way I could bring that vision to my local community in rural Maryland.

    •  Sorry just got here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, bronte17, sberel

      I'm a development economist and the name Muhammad Yunus is very well-known and revered in economic development circles. His innovative, original ideas and his humanitarian goals changed the lives of so many women through his micro-credit system. He used his own money to start this off and challenged the traditional banking notion that poor people would not repay their loans and that only those with collateral could be relied on to repay. I was at an event a few years ago now that honored him at the World Bank and was happy to finally see his peers recognising him after decades of being shunned and looked at funny for his ideas. He's very deserving of the accolade that he is being given and I'm sorry to see all the quibbling in response to this diary.

      •  Thank you very much. (3+ / 0-)

        I have a sense that Mr. Yunus's work is really tremendously important.

        I'm not smart enough these days, nor energetic enough with my major health problems, nor educated enough in economics to do much to help. But it's great to know that people like you exist in abundance!

        •  Thank you for the diary (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Timaeus, bronte17, sberel, KS 65 woman

          I was working at the World Bank at the time and there was a sense among the usually left-leaning economists that the right-wing powers-that-be in economics finally got onto the bandwagon after 3 decades of alternately ignoring or deriding him because he showed that his ideas worked and their traditional ideas about development failed. Now there probably isn't one development institution - World Bank. Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank etc as well as many NGOs that use micro-credit as part of their development strategy.

          The interesting thing about his work is that he only lent to groups of women. Apparently, women would feed, educate and provide healthcare for their children (creating new human capital in development jargon) that would assist in raising standards of living and income whereas men would spend it on a new tractor or road or car and wouldn't necessarily plow it back into their families and communities. Not sure if the Grameen Bank still operates like that but it led to interesting results!

  •  Sidney Ann Soetoro Ph.D-Obama's mom Microfinance (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus, bronte17, sberel

    When I saw that Muhammad Yunas worked with microfinance, I remembered that President Obama's mother worked for a time in Pakistan in her field of microfinance before she went back to Indonesia to set up it's program. I did a little search and found this which mentions Muhammad Yunus but also Sydney Ann.

    I am so excited about this award because Obama and Muhammad will meet if they already haven't when he was younger.
    Quote from a Bengali's website which I can't retreve.

    Muhammad Yunus:

    My choice for Muhammad Yunus as greatest Bengali may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he is the only man in Bengal history who is supremely successful on both the theoretical and practical levels. Moreover he is one of the few persons who is selfless, noble and honest at the same time.

    When I interviewed A. Q. M. Badruddoza Chowdhury, the Ex President of Bangladesh, on January 24, 2008, he said, "There must be no question that micro-credit has been one of the most important innovations of modern times, and that this one, simple, brilliant, counter-intuitive idea has done more to help poor people out of poverty and put them on the road to self-sufficiency, dignity, and independence than any other—and Yunus played like
    a missionary to make it happen." My sentiments are the same as the President Chowdhary—when it comes to the importance of Yunus, a pioneer of micro-credit and the founder of the Grameen Bank—it was Yunus who started the Grameen revolution in 1974, with its influence spreading from Chittagong University to the wider universe, and eventually leading to a dramatic reduction in poverty. Within a few years, it became a massive movement throughout the world—which influenced millions of people around the world—including Dr. Ann Soetoro, the mother of Barack Obama!

    Dr. Ann Soetoro earned a Ph.D. in anthropology. She was a white woman from the Midwest who was more comfortable in Indonesia—most lasting professional legacy was to help build the micro-credit in Indonesia. She has worked from 1988 to 1992 before the practice of granting tiny loans to credit-poor entrepreneurs was an established success story—in 2006—after the father of the movement won the Nobel Peace Prize. Thanks to Ann, today Indonesia's microfinance program is No. 1 in the world in terms of savers, with 31 million members.
    and this from the Huffington Post
    We have, with President Obama, someone who believes in development and diplomacy. Coming to the State Department yesterday sent a very strong signal. A few of you may even know, as I mentioned in my testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee, that the President's late mother was an expert in microfinance and worked in Indonesia. I have been involved in microfinance since 1983, when I first met Muhammad Yunus and had Muhammad come to see us in Arkansas so that we could use the lessons from the Grameen Bank in our own country. I was actually looking forward to being on a panel with the President's mother in Beijing on microfinance.
    You were very warmly welcomed by foreign service workers who have been struggling through eight years of the US losing its moral footing in the world. You brought up a favorite subject, microcredit, and two of my favorite people (along with yourself), President Obama's late mother, Ann Dunham Soetero, and Muhammad Yunus, my "boss."

    One of those helping President Obama's late mother organize that meeting was Lawrence Yanovitch now heading up Poverty issues at the Gates Foundation. He spoke to me about his work with Ann Dunham Soetero when in Paris last year. This Obama victory is also a victory for her and her work with microcredit.

    Microcredit is not the only answer but it surely should be an important part of not only how we restructure our own American economy, but how we support others around the world.

    Microcredit helps women. Microcredit helps fight against fundamentalism and violence against women, children, immigrant communities, and makes the business-model approach to ending poverty a human one.

    Muhammad Yunus' work with the Grameen Bank has now made it to the US with Grameen America. Organizations such as the Grameen Foundation have been replicating this model around the world.

    President Obama's late mother "got it," Hillary Clinton "got it"...years before others. Now let's grow it at home and around the world. It's one banking system that is actually working. What other bank these days is made up mostly of women borrowers and can claim a 98-99% payback rate? Surely not Citibank!


    •  It was "Stanley Ann" by the way--she was named (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bronte17, sberel

      after her father, who was hoping for a boy.

      Thanks much for this fascinating post! I had read that Dr. Dunham did groundbreaking work on village economies in Indonesia. That's what her Ph.D. dissertation was on. But I didn't realize she had done research in Pakistan, much less that she knew Muhammad Yunus. That's incredible.

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