Today, as I was surfing through recent New stories I came upon the story of President Obama bowing to the Japanese Emperor. Normally this would be the accepted thing – in Japan and thus not even worth a mention in the News. However many of Obama’s staunch critics claim that by bowing, he (Obama) has made America look weak. One Republican thought that the President should stand tall and project an image of “power” – after all he’s the President. Others accused him of being a little too obsequious.
What the hell is wrong with these people? Having zero understanding of Japanese customs and culture these dinosaurs in American politics voice their asinine opinions without really knowing what they are talking about. The “bow”, in Japan, is the same as the handshake in the west. It is not in anyway, shape or form, a gesture implying an inferior status or subservience. Obama’s bow merely conveyed his heart felt thanks and respect to the Emperor and thus was reciprocated by the man himself, along with his wife. The Emperor didn’t for one minute even consider himself above Obama, he advocates egalitarianism, for crying out loud. If truth be known, he probably has more respect for Obama than he has had for any other recent American President. George Bush Snr, threw-up during a lavish dinner in his honor at the Imperial Palace back in the early 90’s. And George Bush Jr, refused to remove his shoes when visiting the Golden Temple, on his trip to the country. Arrogant asses.
This kind of narrow-mindness and jingoism belongs back in the McCarthy era of the 1950s. All politicians should be setting an example for the nation, by showing that they are above the pettiness and paranoia. Open-mindedness and the acceptance of other customs and cultures are what these men and women should be promoting. With negative and churlish comments like what I read, these hubris people are just fueling hatred and misunderstanding around the world. It is also political. The few future, and now serving, Congressional and Senate representatives make these statements, in the hope of winning votes from the many anachronistic individuals that still – in the 21st century – suffer from xenophobia. Are they not ashamed?
In conclusion; allow me to explain a little more about the custom of bowing. Japanese believe that the “bow” is the best way to communicate true appreciation, as the entire body bowed shows tremendous thanks. The western handshake can be – and sometimes is – insincere. However the bow is considered honest and from the heart. Japanese also accept gifts, letters, documents, etc with two hands. This too, is deemed as a way of showing your respect to the person who is presenting the gift, etc.