“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I am surprised, and very proud of him and of our country, to be sure.
I also wonder a little bit about what it means to award a Nobel Prize to someone who represents potential and promise more than–thus far– action and accomplishment. I’m a huge fan of the Nobel Prizes in general, and the peace prize to be sure. The list of Laureates reads like a collection of my all-time heroes (minus that Jesus of Nazareth guy, who lived before peace prizes, and Gandhi, who I can’t figure out why he didn’t get one): Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu.
And Barack Obama.
I love the man. I love his policies. I love the things he says. I’m still waiting for most of them to take effect. Like closing Gitmo. Like bringing our troops home from the two wars we are fighting. Like putting any pressure on Congress for a public option health care reform bill (which may have little to do with global peace, but more to do with peace of mind and body). Like reducing the stockpiling of nuclear arms in any part of the world. Like using his position to change global environmental policies. Even one of those things, let alone (I hope, by the end of his service as President) a large chunk of them, and I think he’s more than won himself a Nobel Peace Prize.
But what has he done thus far?
The Nobel Committee says this prize was awarded “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Efforts being a pretty key word there.
Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland elaborated: “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.” Now we’re getting somewhere.
And, from the same NPR article linked above:
Former Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said Obama has already provided outstanding leadership in the effort to prevent nuclear proliferation.
“In less than a year in office, he has transformed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in and rekindled hope for a world at peace with itself,” ElBaradei said. “He has shown an unshakeable commitment to diplomacy, mutual respect and dialogue as the best means of resolving conflicts.”
The way I see it, this awarding of the Peace Prize is an expression first of all of relief from the international community– thank goodness America is going in a new direction! Then it is also an act of trust, of faith if you will, that the promise and the potential seen in Obama are not empty talk, but that he can and will follow through with the vision he is beginning to paint for the world. A world at peace with itself. A hope for a better future.
I try to get people to believe in things, to feel better about the world, to have faith in stuff they haven’t yet seen. It’s not an easy task. To change a climate in, say, a local church, from one of fear to one of hope is a mighty task indeed. I have a little first-hand experience in this effort. Again, effort being a key word. So to change the mood in the country and in the international community– yeah, that is a pretty big deal.
Maybe this award is more of an attempt at early positive reinforcement, a way of saying, yes, do that, keep going in that direction and we, the Nobel Committee at least, support your early efforts. We give your our mandate for what it’s worth. Maybe it’s given in trust for the things not yet realized, as a motivator and comes with a little post-it stuck to the check: “don’t make us regret this!” Maybe it’s a way of the international community saying we have hope for the future of our relationship, we have faith in the United States of America.
When was the last time the world had faith in us?
Mr. President, I trust you. I have faith that you can carry through on at least some of your promises and some of your vision. I hope and pray that you can live into this gift and honor you’ve been given, and be who so many of us, including some folks on the Nobel Committee it seems, believe you will be– a man who changes the way we look at global politics and policies. Even though I don’t totally see it right now, I have faith in these things hoped for.