For all you can say for or against Barack Obama as President, there is one huge thing can be said in his favor. He has returned a forgotten key ingredient of crucial diplomatic etiquette to the forefront and that is RESPECT (say it loud just like Aretha Franklin did).
The idea of respect, (or, if that is too much to ask, then at least its little brother REGARD) has been trounced and forgotten in recent decades and even ridiculed.
Simple, common respect or regard for each other is the basic fluid needed for a society to have cohesion and to even function. Without common respect you end up with a ghetto environment where there is little or no cooperation between neighbors and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion sets into a community.
People remain behind walls both physical and mental and anger becomes the commonly used modem of communication. A respect-less community is a lonely one.
When Obama took office the respect quotient for the U.S. soared. The Bush administration (and Dick Cheney in particular) had set new lows for showing regard for the U.S. citizens and for the world society in general. An aggressive arrogance and lust for domination was masked (at least in Bush’s case) by a gee-whiz, I’m just a plain old guy pretense (Cheney made no such pretense. He was just plain a mean, old SOB and made no effort to hide it).
Civil liberties, especially after 911, were undermined or eliminated in our country, and international laws and agreements that had been built up between the world’s nations over hundreds of years were gutted, ignored and shredded in the pursuit of what ever our nation’s hidden power mongers wanted. Respect for the US in the eyes of the entire world was lowered, a fact that the Bush administration showed no interest in as long as it had other countries by the balls economically and politically.
Obama showed by natural grace that he intended to give respect to those who had been denied it in years past. He knew what respect was and gave it to all he came into contact was. The world responded immediately. They recognized it in him and returned it to him. The US’s stature in the eyes of the world was greatly elevated. He showed true concern for the difficulties of the non-moneyed in this nation and others because he had lived it himself as opposed to the phony, manipulative sentiment that had been spread around like fertilizer in the past.
Of course, there were those who found fault with that- mostly those who were specialists in character assassination and social manipulation themselves. The biggest accusation happened when Obama bowed before the Emperor of Japan which is the normal tradition in that country. Obama showed them the proper respect. The detractors claimed loud and hard that this showed weakness and kowtowing to our political ‘adversaries’. No, it didn’t. It restored the trust that the US would show the necessary regard to other nations that is needed for international relationships to function.
Showing dignity to others has become a thing of the past in many areas of America these days. The working class has been treated more and more like farm animals to be used until they are worn out and then discarded. The London of the Dickens novels of the 1800’s are now being revisited in modern form upon the American everyman. Immigrants and foreigners are being brought in to work cheaper and then herded to their appropriate slum housing conveniently well away from the homes of the overlords.
We are being ordered about more and more by people who think they are superior to deny us our natural rights. International agreements were trod upon in pursuit of American security. 3,000 were killed on 911- multiple more innocents have been torn apart by our soldiers and drones on foreign lands and their numbers are not counted. A new low in political disrespect were the rabid attacks on John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election.
Veterans who had served their country were considered to have paid the ultimate price and were taboo as far as slamming goes. But the powers that wanted to be in that year decided that anything goes and even decorated veterans could be dragged through the mud for political reasons.
Kerry’s military medals and war wounds were trivialized and disgraced. The bigger disgrace was the character assassination that can now be leveled at any vet. Nothing is sacred to those who insist on being in the top echelons of power. Elements in our political and media environment are ruthless in their propaganda and character assassinations.
It is well that an individual like Obama came along to remind us of the need for individual respect. Few others seem to remember what that is.