Saturday, April 4, 2009
For most of the twentieth century the United States assumed the role as leader of the civilized world; the best in industry, finance and policy. Other nations might look to us an example of what is good and right. A Beacon - America the best, the bravest, the boldest, the boss.
In more recent years, specifically following the attacks of September 11, when other nations saw an opportunity to embrace us as an ally with a common goal, it seems our nation moved from being an example of leading to dictating how others must fall in step with our agenda. That moment of opportunity had vanished and anti-American sentiment began to develop throughout the world, particularly in Europe, where the United States was once held in high regard.
A “war on terror” was waged, troops were deployed, soldiers were killed, countless Iraqi lives destroyed and fear and anger turned to suspicion as the United States, the example of what is good and right, broke its’ own constitution and began holding people without charging them and torturing prisoners in Guantanamo and other undisclosed locations around the world. Times had changed and who could blame others for pointing out the arrogance and hypocrisy of the great American nation?
That suspicion and anger began to fester here at home, in cities and towns, across the Great Plains and from sea to shining sea till this last November when America voted for change. (Obama’s decision to put players who helped to create financial deregulation in a position to fix the economic crisis isn’t, exactly, the change I can believe in but that’s another post)
The previous administration has left power, the Bush-Cheney justice department is being scooped out like a melon and discoveries of their dishonest, corrupt and nefarious deeds keep unfolding.
Now our nation is being represented to the world by a new face of America, one that other nations may not have seen before. After attending the G-20 summit in London, President and Mrs. Obama continued their European tour and yesterday President Obama held a town-hall style meeting in Strasbourg France.
In his opening remarks in Strasbourg he said, “America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive… But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious…So I've come to Europe this week to renew our partnership, one in which America listens and learns from our friends and allies.”
It’s like I’m dreaming. I watched the presidents' opening remarks last night, staggered, my mouth agape. We now have a president who seeks to listen and to learn, a president who sees humility as a strength. Hail to the chief.