switch.’s very own “pr0go” blogged recently about the fact that the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to our President, the one and only Barack Obama. Upon first reading her post, I agreed with “pr0go” that he probably received the award a little too prematurely.
But after thinking about it some more, I have to say that I’ve changed my mind.
It all started earlier when I read something in an article from MSNBC.com that annoyed me just a tad bit. And I quote:
Even in Europe, where Obama is hugely popular, many editorials and pundits questioned what he had done to deserve the award.
“Scrap the Nobel Peace Prize,” foreign affairs commentator Bronwen Maddox wrote in The Times of London. “It’s an embarrassment and even an impediment to peace. President Obama, in letting the committee award it to him, has made himself look vain, a fool and dangerously lost in his own mystique.”
The article that the excerpt is from was actually a very solid and informational article. But when I read that quote from Bronwen Maddox, I was a little peeved. And here’s why.
First of all, his calling the Nobel Peace Prize an “embarrassment” and “an impediment to peace” seems purely a result of his anger towards the most recent choice of recipients. I, for one, see nothing wrong with the Prize itself.
Secondly—and here’s the part that really got me—he said that President Obama “made himself look vain, a fool and dangerously lost in his own mystique,” because he accepted the award.
Now let’s think about this for a second. If President Obama had turned down the Prize, which has been previously awarded to highly influential figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Woodrow Wilson, Ralph Bunche, Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama, that probably wouldn’t be a good look for the President. People worldwide would have jumped on him immediately for either showing disrespect towards the Prize and its Committee, or for not being confident in his own work. Seeing as how he is the main ambassador for our nation, his dismissal of the award would probably have done more bad than good for the name of America. So he accepted it.
His “acceptance speech,” however, was perfect in my opinion. Again, I quote:
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.
That is why I’ve said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won’t all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. He paid respect to the previous Prize recipients, and to the purpose of the Prize itself. And he accepted the Prize as a “call to action” for “all nations and all peoples.” What else should he have done?
If we’re going to be upset with anyone, we should be upset with the Committee for awarding the Prize to President Obama. He didn’t ask for the Prize… he just woke up and found out that he had received it. If there’s an issue as to whether or not he deserved it just yet, blame the people that gave it to him.
I’ll end with this: I did some quick Wikipedia research on the Prize, and Alfred Nobel said that it should be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work [during the preceding year] for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
If you can find someone that fits that criteria more so than President Barack Obama, let me know. Otherwise, let’s all just hush up and let the man accept the Prize in peace (no pun intended).