through others eyes…

A number of my posts have referenced my cultural heritage…I’m Hawaiian.

I’m also half-Chinese, although I know very little about the culture since my father died when I was one, and my mom was never accepted by her in-laws because she wasn’t Chinese. What I do know was gained from having lived among the Chinese, whose numbers figured large in  Hawaii‘s “melting pot.”

You’ll agree, I’m sure, that who we become is influenced by the environment in which we have been raised. By osmosis, we absorb the good, the bad, and the nuances…of our surroundings.

Born in 1949, I was a Hawaiian on the verge of becoming an American. Once a monarchy, Hawaii became a state of the union on August 21, 1959. I turned 10 that same month.

English: President Sanford B. Dole of the Repu...

English: President Sanford B. Dole of the Republic of Hawaii, his cabinet, and officers of the United States Army, reviewing from the steps of the former royal palace the first American troops to arrive in Honolulu, in 1898, on their way to Manila to capture the city, which Commodore Dewey held at bay with the guns of his fleets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the lead up to becoming an American, I was not allowed to speak my native tongue nor learn about the history of my island home. Instead, I was formally educated in the English language and in American history.

My mom, widowed with 9 children, supported us with her meager earnings as laundress for a Catholic orphanage run by Maryknoll nuns from Boston, Massachusetts. She inferred from them that she should only speak English, and she should abandon her superstitious, island traditions.

As a result of my family’s experience with having to adapt to become  Americans, I am sensitive to others who view America as wanting to usurp their uniqueness as a people…with their own cultural beliefs and traditions.

Despite the Birthers who refuse to acknowledge President Obama’s American citizenship, he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961 at 7:24 p.m. at Kapiolani & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. His father, 25 at the time; his mother, 18.  You can view the long form of his birth certificate at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/birth-certificate-long-form.pdf

President Obama and I share a commonality…we were born in Hawaii. Me, 10 years before it became a state; the President, 2 years after.

I think most will agree that the first years of a child’s life are the formative ones. They were for me.

English: President Barack Obama signs H.R. 847...

I don’t profess to know all about President Obama, but I sincerely feel he is imbued with the Aloha Spirit so closely identified with the islands we both call home. In fact, he has said as much.

Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: “The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.”[38]

President Obama’s approach to foreign policy is reflective of his upbringing.

He stands tall for American values, all the while recognizing that others have the same right to take pride in who they are and in what they believe. In attempting to bring them around to a more democratic outlook in how they govern, the President does not see the need to annihilate the essence of who they are as a people.

Respecting other nations and supporting them as they take the lead in pursuing their own democracies, President Obama acknowledges that America can no longer act  as the imperialist nation it once was.

America remains the most powerful nation on earth. We still “speak softly and carry a big stick.” It’s just that others are more inclined to call our bluff…namely the terrorists…and China.

We need more in our arsenal of weapons than just bullying postures and empty threats.

First and foremost the President is opting to sit around the table with our allies, and other nations important to the stability required in these very uncertain times. He has made every effort to effect what he has said. That he hasn’t done it to everyone’s expectations might be credited, in part, to the rapidity with which events unfold. And the need to remain flexible, feet grounded, but not immovable.

That America must assert its authority as it once did in previous eras, such as during the Cold War, is not seeing where we are today.

The Middle-East is comprised of such divisive factions. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the problems that exist there.

Governor Romney’s vision of American leadership in the world is a throwback to what prior Administrations have held. Perhaps appropriate to some degree then, less likely today.

President Obama’s’ visits to leaders of the Arab world had been viewed as currying favor with those leaders.

My view has always been that the President was reaching out to people who have always been demonized by us, just as we have always been demonized by them. He was trying to build a bridge. A conversation between perceived enemies, if you will.

The world is not black and white. It is colored…textured…multi-faceted.

We need to live outside of ourselves, in the real world where others are trying to do the same. Realizing that how we expect to be treated by others…is how they would like to be treated by us. Sound familiar?

…i invite you to step back…and see the world…through others eyes…

………hugmamma.

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18 thoughts on “through others eyes…

  1. Grateful to Marcia for leading me to this. A very pertinent and thought provoking post indeed. Especially for people watching with interest, from cultures that perceive America as a selective and hypocritical bully! Building bridges rather than confrontation is the key to peace and balance and I wonder what it must feel like to carry the expectations of the entire world on ones shoulders! It is going to be hard, but Obama seems like the man to do it 🙂

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    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful and valuable comment. It is good to hear what those in the international community think about our politics. Americans tend to see the rest of the world only from their perspective. President Obama brings a different world-view…seeing others as they see themselves…not only as we see them.

      Again, mahalo and aloha for your input. 🙂

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  2. Very insightful post Hugmamma. I completely agree with your assessment of President Obama and suspect I do so because I have lived the immigrant experience.

    I moved to the USA (from Panama) over 40 years ago in search of the American dream; and am of the opinion that only when we take time to understand people from other cultures, we can truly appreciate how blessed we are to call ourselves Americans.

    The world is no longer an abstract concept, the internet has seen to that. It allows us to learn from each other in ways that were almost impossible not too long ago. I love to learn what makes others tick and the fact that it is not always what makes me tick, fascinates me. Diversity is a beautiful thing!

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    • Thanks, Marcia for re blogging this. Hugmamma stated so beautifully that we need to walk in others’ shoes. to understand. I was so incensed that some small minded people were upset that President Obama bowed to leaders of other countries when he met them. Do they think our culture is the only one that counts? Perhaps you’re preaching to the choir, but I think the music of acceptance never gets old. This was a post that was balm to my heart.

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      • Mahalo and aloha for your kind words, Barb. As you said…they were “balm to my heart.” In the current, political climate the politicizing of the Mid-East is a sad statement on a return to American imperialism. Wanting to dominate the rest of the word with our beliefs is arcane. We should continue on the road to diplomacy…with a steady hand…and an open heart. President Obama has proven to be the man for the job, time and again.

        …again…i appreciate your support of what i’ve written. 🙂

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  3. A powerful post.
    Here in the UK, we are always fascinated by all the razzmatazz that surrounds the American Presidential Election and quite a few of us Brits don’t really understand the full process- our own General Elections seem drab by comparison. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that
    the people of the United States of America will shortly be electing probably the most powerful
    politician in the world. A truly daunting task where surely experience on the world stage is of prime importance for people both at home and abroad.

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    • Thank you for weighing in. CNN news just ran an international poll where countries voted between President Obama and Governor Romney. Of the countries polled, only Pakistan voted for the challenger.

      How the world perceives our President is significant in the role America plays globally. He must be a balance of strength and humanity; a man devoted to serving the people he leads, while remaining devoted to those he loves; a man of measured words who says what he means and does what he says to the best of his ability.

      President Obama embodies the best of America. And you can quote me on that. 🙂

      Like

hugs for sharing some brief thoughts...and keeping them positive

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