When it comes to human posture there are certain things that our culture has deemed important. Standing as a sign of respect is one of them. We stand when a judge enters a courtroom, we stand for the National Anthem, many of us were taught to stand when an older person entered a room, we offer a seat on the train or a bus, the list goes on.
There is a wonderful scene in an episode of The West Wing in which the White House hosts a reception for members of the media. One of them is a radio talk show host with a conservative bent. Although most of her colleagues are standing as they mingle, she is sitting enjoying her beverage when the president enters the room for a brief greeting. He recognizes her and baits her into a conversation that challenges some of the precepts on which she bases a rant on homosexuality. We watch the expression on her face move from smug confidence to discomfort, and then she receives the ultimate reprimand when the president reminds her, "when the President is standing, no one sits."
I go on about this because I am aghast at the response to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama. I include myself among the number of people who were surprised when I heard the news, but I also listened to the rationale from the committee that led them to their unanimous choice. I don't think it's up to the rest of us to challenge in a split second what the committee considered and debated and concluded after a period of months.
And besides, this is Our Guy. The President. The one for whom bands strike up Hail to the Chief when he enters the room. Can we not show a little respect? When the Olympics are in play we tally up our medal wins, and we root for the American whose name we didn't know and probably won't remember two days later. We cheer him or her on, do the solo wave or happy dance, and hug the nearest cohort with great enthusiasm, if not reckless abandon. We know only what the media has shown us about the athlete's personal life and priorities, and yet we hail our athletes as heroes to be carried on shoulders and paraded around a victory lap. It's called National Pride.
So where's the Pride? This is the Nobel Peace Prize! He's Our Guy and we stand behind him, regardless of politics. The culture of "N'Obama" has unleashed a poison into our society that has hit a new low when it comes to the rhetoric of hate and disrespect, and translates into regrettable human behavior. It is not helpful to discourse, fails at persuasion, and worst of all is unhealthy human behavior. Unchecked it becomes modeled to our children and those who are ignorant by choice or circumstance. This is a wake up call to all of us, and if the false adage that silence implies consent is believed, then the bullies win the day.
Stand up. Be respectful. This is Our Guy.