I’m not the biggest Bush fan. And with his approval rating hovering around 24%, I don’t think many of you are either. Yesterday, however, Mr. Bush managed to get my respect. (But only for a moment. Too bad he had to screw it up with his ridiculous press conference banter earlier in the day.)

President Bush became the first US leader to appear publicly with the Dalai Lama despite threats by the Chinese government that such an event would bring about “a severe violation of the norms of international relations.” The White House acknowledged China’s displeasure with the event by not releasing photographs of the two leaders at a private meeting on Tuesday. Yet, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader was presented with the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal as Bush praised him as a “universal symbol of peace and tolerance, a shepard of the faithful, and a keeper of the flame for his people.” Photographs of the ceremony were released this time around. Talk about a diplomatic dance to the death.

So the Chinese are pissed that the US honored a man who promotes so-called secessionist activities and political unrest towards the motherland. And the Chinese may be partially correct in their thinking as the CIA contributed millions of dollars during the 1960’s to support the exiled Tibetan administration in India. We have a lot to lose by further angering the Chinese; they could totally kick our rear-ends by supporting governments we’re trying to destabilize or by diverting their capital surplus away from underwriting our ever-growing debt.

Yet, in the midst of this tortuous love-hate relationship, each party has somehow humbled himself to ascribe to the message of gratitude. We showed our love to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama gave us some love in return. The Dalai Lama passed some love over to India while expressing no hatred towards the Chinese. The Chinese didn’t show much love to anyone but toned down their rhetoric somewhat. I even had a moment where I respected the Bush administration.

Whether Christian, Sikh, or Buddhist, lame duck president, spiritual leader or civilian, we each have unique qualities that can be celebrated and shared. I could have come to a similar conclusion and been spared of the sillyness of this week’s news if I had just remembered that Guru Nanak Dev Ji devoted himself to highlighting the oneness of humanity by exploring the differences that separate people. That he promoted open discourse and interfaith dialogue without press secretaries and journalists meddling in the process. That it is possible to co-exist while respecting what makes each of us distinct. That ultimately all of creation has the same origin and end and that during the short time we experience life through human-form we should practice being tolerant, humble, honest, and compassionate towards one another.

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