There has been quite a bit of uproar lately, in political circles, news outlets, and in general conversations. It basically has to do with the recent announcement of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. The winner this year was Barack Obama, President of the United States.
According to the organization awarding the prize, President Obama was selected for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.”
Do I think he deserved the award? Yes.
Was it perhaps a bit premature? Maybe.
A lot of individuals in the country are misinformed about the award when they respond that he was nominated just weeks into his presidency. Or, that he had not been in office ‘long enough’ to accomplish anything.
The Nobel Peace Prize is not necessarily awarded for accomplishments and certainly not for longevity in an elected position. A number of the Nobel Prize recipients were not elected office holders at all.
The prestigious honor is awarded for possessing intangibles such as vision, ideas, aspirations, articulation of beliefs and values, creating a new climate of cooperation and interdependence based on hope, fairness and goals for the advancement of humanity.
America has had twenty recipients of the award since President Theodore Roosevelt first received the honor in 1906. Other honorees have included other sitting and past presidents, vice-presidents, Secretaries of State, university professors, religious groups, military leaders, civil rights activists, physician organizations, authors, environmentalists and average citizens.
Some of the ideals promoted were peace treaties, formation of the League of Nations, foundation of the United Nations, Christian organization leaders, nuclear war opponents, international food cooperative founders, land-mine opponents and international economic policy proponents, to name a few.
Were they all successful? No.
But, they believed to their very core in what they were doing and they believed they were doing it for the betterment of humankind. President Obama was honored, not so much for what he accomplished, as for what he was trying to accomplish; the problems that he felt needed to be rectified.
It is true that a lot of the policies he advocated were during his presidential campaign. But, this was the vehicle from which he could make his ideas known to the public at large.
He had a vision of more involvement of the world community, especially, in areas of multi-national cooperation involving military operations. He articulated his concern for international initiatives in areas of climate control, pollution, medical aid, food distribution and other humanitarian issues.
Much to my disappointment and dismay, important issues in this country are diminished to petty partisan politics that depreciate the value and importance of the issues being addressed.
It was not a Republican, or ‘Bull Moose’ Teddy Roosevelt, who drew up the 1905 peace treaty between Russia and Japan. It was not the Democrat President Woodrow Wilson who worked tirelessly to help found the League of Nations.
It was not Democratic former Secretary of State Cordell Hull who diligently worked to establish the United Nations. It was not Republican Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that negotiated the Vietnam Peace Accord.
These were ‘Americans’ that saw a particular problem in the world and forged ahead to try to solve it. And we Americans applauded their efforts, for the good we do for one citizen of this world, we do for all.
We Americans need to stop polarizing every issue in the national and international scene based on our particular Republican or Democratic ideology.
I think it is great, in fact, wonderful, to discuss and debate ideas and issues that face us as a nation. But, it is a national shame when we allow our biases to denigrate the discussion to name calling, personal attacks, and gross overgeneralizations.
From the third chapter of 1 Peter, we read:
“For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him seek peace and pursue it.”
We call ourselves a Christian nation, or at least, a nation based on Christian principles. Whichever view we subscribe to, we need to step up to the plate, and act with civility, compassion, and restraint.