One of the reasons why the impact of the over seven million-strong Muslim community in America is not equal to its numbers is the impression among some that life has little connection with politics or that they can do little to shape life's direction in the face of unfriendly political forces. 9/11, however, brought home the negative impact of politics and how weaknesses can invite mistreatment. Too often, the problem is seen in simple terms and ascribed to a lack of education. But is it? In Pakistan, the literacy rates are low and the school dropout rates are high. In the US, the literacy rates among the US-born Muslim youth are almost 100 percent, but where is the proportionate impact? In striking contrast, Asian-Americans from the Far East and Southeast Asia have made huge strides along with Indian-Americans. The issue may be related more to aspirations, ambitions, and attitudes, and less with the extent of formal education received. A common refrain one hears from Muslim families is that children are most often told what they 'can't' do rather than what they 'can' do. Along with that is the festering frustration amongst the youth on the constant bombardment from TV of negative imagery about their faith and community. But this frustration has yet to be channelised into the meaningful fury of doing something about it. Then, too, there is this tendency of too much togetherness which results in being mired in a narrow social base, thereby limiting engagement and outreach with the larger society. Also, within the community, there is insufficient emphasis placed on mentoring and carrying the torch. Mixed together, the foregoing factors have produced few inspirational role models for the youth to emulate. This has not helped in the development of daring and determination. The acceleration of Islamophobia during the Bush-Cheney Administration exposed the gaps within the Muslim community for collectively not striving with seriousness of purpose to place itself as a vital constituency in US politics. The pattern of seeking others to represent Muslims, rather than Muslims striving to represent themselves, has weakened the community. The youth particularly have to put themselves out there and stamp their presence in the arena of ideas. A risk-averse approach ends up risking dignity, security, and opportunity. Passivity is a luxury that Muslims can ill afford. The results of passivity can no longer be concealed today. Tomorrow may yet reveal the fruits of activism. The US media is obsessively focused on celebrity and crime reporting. After 9/11, the agenda-driven highlighting of the crime of terrorism caught the unprepared Muslim community off-guard. Had its leaders set the tone of higher standards of activism, there may have been safeguards against becoming easy scapegoats. Some of the pressures on the Muslim community are self-imposed. The self-limiting divisions Muslims make among themselves along sectarian and ethno-national lines are often not made by their adversaries. Equally limiting is a timid mindset. There has been too much apathy and too little passion to counter it. One way to make a new beginning is to aim higher. The foot prints on the path to progress will not be made by sitting down on a couch. The writer is a barrister and senior political analyst