Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reflections on the Nobel Peace Prize

Barack Obama, Presidente de los EE.UU.Folks, as you all know from CNN and other outlets, President Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize today. Although many will feel pride and vindication at our President being awarded this prestigious prize, my own feelings about it are disbelief and disappointment.

Ever since the Nobel committee awarded the Peace Prize to former Vice President Al Gore in 2007, I became convinced that the Peace Prize had become cheapened and has lost its meaning. Back then, Irena Sendler, a 96-year old Polish woman who saved more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during the Holocaust lost to Mr. Gore. So did Sail Training International, a UK-based charity that promotes international understanding and friendship through sail training for young people, and Sri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, an Indian guru and spiritual leader who died that same year, who was an author, composer, artist and athlete; who held public events on the theme of inner peace and world harmony (such as concerts, meditations, and races, and who emphasized love for God, daily meditation on the heart, service to the world, and religious tolerance - not that I agree with all his religious views, but at least I reckon he tried to be a peacemaker. Yet the Nobel Peace Prize Committee saw fit to award their prize to Mr. Gore, who had never bled one tiny drop for the cause of peace anywhere. at any time. Last year the Nobel selection committee did what in the 21th century is becoming a rarity, as they recognized the work of former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and his mediation in a number of international conflicts, a person with a proven record of peacemaking, to receive the Peace Prize.

This is the context for this year's award. President Obama was nominated for the prize barely two weeks after he assumed office, five years after becoming the junior senator from Illinois; before that he was a "community organizer". His record as a peacemaker is non-existent. Even when compared to Jimmy Carter, and whatever you may think of Carter's politics, he facilitated reconciliation between Israel and Egypt; through his work in Habitat for Humanity Carter has done more for peace and reconciliation among peoples than Mr. Obama in his entire public career.

The fact is that the Nobel committee cares little about specific achievements in peacemaking any more. They now prefer to support, cultivate, and influence people or agencies with specific political agendas and of a particular ideology that resonate better with their postmodern, Scandinavian ethos. Gone are the days when someone like Mother Teresa was the ideal candidate for the prize.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee had scored significant omissions during its existence. These include Mahatma Gandhi, Corazón Aquino, Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, Dorothy Day, César Chávez, Oscar Romero, José Figueres Ferrer, Steve Biko, Raphael Lemkin, Abdul Sattar Edhi, and Irena Sendler. But they saw fit to honor Mr. Barack Obama? This can't be explained unless we concede that ideology played the decisive role in their selection.

I am trying to find a reason to be proud as an American for this award, but I can't find any. I have to add my voice to those of the skeptics and naysayers. This award was given prematurely, to the wrong person, and for the wrong reasons. This error cheapens the award and risks making it meaningless.

Now, I don't want to end on a sour note. I hope that Mr. Obama from now on works to earn his prize. I hope that he honors his promise of not funding abortion and protecting conscientious pro-life objections it in his health care reform, promises already voided by the Democrat majority in Congress. I pray that he stops supporting groups and causes that aim to destroy the natural, traditional family. I pray that he doesn't bring into his team fringe, extreme left-wing ideologues that seed division, contradiction, and turmoil but not peace. Let us pray for this intention and maybe, 4 years from now, we may look back and say yes, Mr. Barack Obama has earned his Nobel Peace Prize and then, only then, will I be proud for him and for all of us.

(This is a repost. I fixed a bunch of typos and added the picture)