Sunday, November 09, 2008

The World Welcomes America Back

Never in our 232-year history has the United States of America had such a negative image in the world. The America of the Marshall Plan, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Voting Rights Act became the America of the Bush Doctrine, the Patriot Act and Abu Ghraib.

There are those of us who really don't care about how people throughout the world view this country. These are likely to be those among us who have never set foot in another country, let alone interacted with the locals. There is something about having done this for a number of years that sets some of us apart from our countrymen.

I have done this. For several years I lived and worked in an Islamic nation. The same nation, I might add, that Barack Obama lived in and attended school. It gives you unique views and a general concern for how others see us.

In other pursuits I have had the chance to reestablish contacts with European descendents of my ancestors. Contacts that have been lost for 3 generations. So I have had the chance to hear about the thoughts and feelings of Europeans on news of the victory of Barack Obama in a direct sense. Here is what my 4th cousin, Jean-François says about our victory:

"I guess you're a happy man! It is so good news that Obama won. Really you would be amazed by the event it creates here, it was like if the vote was for our own president! People in the streets singing and crying..."

"We have the feeling that the America we love is back; it is like if a shadow were removed or a "parenthèse" in our long friendship is now closed."

You may already know also that I am an educator. If I may, I’d like to make an analogy of what just happened last week to a classroom situation.

It’s as if the child in the classroom who always gets his name written on the board, the miscreant who makes it hard for others to learn has, over night, become the model student who now gets gold stars on his homework.

Let’s all hope that the praise we are receiving from around the world this week remains well-deserved.

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