"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nobel: Peace IS the Prize


On the eve of President Obama's trip to Oslo, Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, we would all do well to consider the context of the President's acceptance of this auspicious award.  We (in the United States) are living an Orwellian nightmare (albeit a subtle one) that, much like Orwell's 1984, involves perpetual war, pervasive governmental surveillance, public mind control (propaganda), the voiding of the rights of citizens, and of course doublethink and doublespeak. Yes - war is peace and peace is war.  Thank you Big Brother.  And thank you, President Obama, for perpetuating the status quo of the previous eight years.

The Nobel Committee, in its infinite wisdom, awarded this year's prize to President Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."  I have not yet ascertained what the committee was smoking when it made its decision, but as I listened to the President speak from West Point to convince the American people and the world that sometimes you have to destroy a village to save it, I was sickened by the falseness of his speech (and of his presidency so far).

Whatever Obama might one day become, he is a long way from becoming a peacemaker as he authorizes more soldiers to fight what has now become his war.  I find myself thinking back to another African American who truly deserved his Nobel Peace Prize.  Martin Luther King Jr. received the prize in 1964, and the only similarity between Dr. King and Barack Obama is the color of their skin.  Dr. King was a peacemaker; he lived and breathed nonviolence in his words and actions.  He moved mountains without firing a single shot, and definitely without hurting or killing a single human being.

Dr, King's Nobel acceptance speech, given on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, reflected his deep faith and life's work.  Here are some highlights:

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.

I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him.

I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.

I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.

I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."

I still believe that We Shall overcome!

Gunnar Jahn, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, in the 1964 presentation speech, said that Dr. King "is the first person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence... Today we pay tribute to Martin Luther King, the man who has never abandoned his faith in the unarmed struggle he is waging, who has suffered for his faith, who has been imprisoned on many occasions, whose home has been subject to bomb attacks, whose life and the lives of his family have been threatened, and who nevertheless has never faltered."

Perhaps that statement sums up the contrasts between the lives of these two people - one who faithfully lived out the life of gospel nonviolence, and one who lives the politically expedient (and astute) life; one a peacemaker, and the other a politician.

Let us hope that as President Obama stands in the Oslo City Hall, he will be humbled by the collective spirits of previous Nobel Peace Prize laureates, and will be moved to reconsider how, as recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and President of the United States, he can earn the right to the prize and move the world towards real peace.  Wouldn't that be a greater goal than getting elected to a second term?
After all - Peace IS the Prize!

P.S. - You can read the Nobel Laureates' Final Conference Statement from this year's World Summit of Nobel Laureates in my November 30th Nuclear Abolitionist Blog post.
Nobel Peace Prize 1964 (where you can read Dr. King's entire acceptance speech as well as his Nobel lecture.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University

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