Friday, October 9, 2009
The Redefinition of Peace
In the early hours of Friday morning, The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 would be awarded to President Barack Obama. The committee cited the President's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Special importance was attached by the committee to President Obama's "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons." Obama is the 4th United States president to receive this prestigious honor, joining Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter. President Obama also joins Civil Right's leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a prominent African-American recepient of the award.
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of 5 Nobel prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel. "According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize should be awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
There have been several controversial Nobel Peace Prize nominations in history, including Adolf Hitler in 1939, Joseph Stalin, and Benito Mussolini. Notable controversial laureates of the esteemed prize include Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat, Lê Ðức Thọ, and Henry Kissinger. The selection of Henry Kissinger prompted two dissenting Committee members to resign.
Notable non-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize include Mahatma Gandhi, Corazon Aquino, Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, Dorothy Day, César Chávez, Oscar Romero, Jose Figueres Ferrer, Steve Biko, Raphael Lemkin, Abdul Sattar Edhi, and Irena Sendler.
Peace laureates are typically awarded to individuals who have spent a significant portion of their lives working at and promoting humanitarian issues. While the President's actions and efforts may very well represent the vision of peace as posited by Alfred Nobel and the Norwegian Nobel committee, President Obama's relatively new familiarity to the office that he now holds in conjunction with his direct involvement with the now 8-year long United States led violent engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan draw considerable concerns for me regarding his fitness to represent the values and subsequent actions that usually typify peace -- the normal, nonwarring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world.
It is not my view that Mr. Obama, with the passage of time, will not become worthy of the honor that has been bestowed upon him. That is the hope inherent in all received preferment. My great fear is that the duties laid out by the office that Mr. Obama currently holds and to the people who have entitled him to it, will cause the President and other seats of power to redefine the methodology of achieving peace -- justifying the use of force, violence, and fear by great men, women, and nations as a reasonable means to what we all agree is a ideal end -- the concert and cohabitation of all the earth's citizens in harmony.
Where there is war, peace can not reside.