Monday, April 20, 2009

Thanks For The Handshake, President Obama

Is anyone besides me tired of the uproar over United States President Barrack Obama shaking hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez last week?

No, of course President Chavez isn't someone most citizens of the United States would like to take home for dinner. Yes, President Chavez will use the handshake for his own political purposes; he's a politician. No, he hasn't shown much respect for the United States or its past and current leadership. But why should these facts mean the handshake was wrong?

What was the alternative? Should President Obama have ignored him, or traded insult for insult? Like it or not, President Chavez is the current leader of his country. He deserves to be treated respectfully, simply out of respect for the people he represents, even if he hasn't personally earned it.

Putting all the hype aside, how does one treat an ordinary bully? By behaving as the bully does? Or by being the more civilized one and treating him as he ought to be treating others? Yes, sometimes one has to defend oneself against bullies, but President Chavez is not likely to order an attack against the United States, except with words. And as the old Earth saying goes, "sticks and stones..."

The proper response was to treat the Venezuelan head of state as one would treat any other head of state ~ with polite courtesy, and an eye toward what the future might hold for the relationship between their two countries. And unless one wants the future to hold more insults and posturing, then the handshake was the proper response.

It's been suggested that the handshake may have originated as a gesture to show that the hand held no weapons and was therefor offered in peace. Sounds like what Earthers need are more handshakes with their adversaries, not less.

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