Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Peace Out!

So Barrack Obama is this year's winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace. I have to admit that when I woke up to that news last week, I scratched my head in bewilderment. I mean, we all know I'm a fan of the man (a conservative friend of mine has referred to me as an Obambie -- like it rhymes with zombie), but this one left me very puzzled. I mean, the guy's only been in office for nine months, a time during which he has been accused by both sides of the political spectrum as seemingly stalled and lacking in any real accomplishment, particularly on the "peace" front. My real fear was that Obama was awarded this prize simply because he was the first black president, and I stifled a groan as I'm sure even he is tired of carrying that weight around. When NPR reported that the nomination would have come within the first weeks or so of the Obama administration, I was even more annoyed. Do conservative pundits really need any more ammunition in their attacks on Obama? I could already picture Glenn Beck crying his eyes out over this one.

As I read more throughout the day, it became apparent that the prize was awarded not for Obama's accomplishments (of which there are, admittedly, few) but for the promise he seems to hold. The idea was that giving him the award was about shedding light on the issue of peace (and more specifically, nuclear disarmament) and creating an incentive for Obama to pursue peaceful conclusions to our current skirmishes. By awarding Obama with this prize, he suddenly faces even greater expectations than before. Within seconds of his election in November, supporters expected him to instantly bring about change -- fix the economy, fix our health care system, save our schools, end racism. Now, he has to create world peace, too?


Here's where I have to ask the same question that my sister asked when she was hired as a speech coach at a nearby high school -- "Seriously? There was no one else more qualified for this?"

Don't get me wrong: I admire Obama's position on diplomacy. I believe that we should try talking to our enemies before we blow them up. But I also believe that we should reward people for their good acts not their good intentions. I'm not knocking the notion of good intentions. They're important to have, no doubt about it. It's admirable to enter any situation with the intention of doing something good. There is, however, a big difference between intending to do good and actually doing good. A student in my English class can INTEND to do his or her book report, but if he or she doesn't actually do it, I don't give him or her an A for the intention. An actor in one of my plays can INTEND to learn lines, but if he or she doesn't actually do it, the play is going to suck (or I have to find a new actor). The same holds true here -- President Obama can INTEND to initiate policies of peace, but if he doesn't actually do it, should he still be awarded a peace prize? Why not let the guy get his feet wet, give him a couple years to actually put his policies into action and see what happens rather than add one more boulder to the guy's shoulders?

Lastly, let's also remember that winning this award was not something Obama chose or pursued. It was not something that the Democratic party necessarily chose or pursued. And it's not Al Gore's fault either. Ultimately, the choice rested on the shoulders of the presumed non-partisan shoulders of the selection committee. (I say non-partisan because they are not American and therefore not a part of our party system, regardless of their personal political philosophies.) If Obama's choice is premature or, as some have claimed, a mockery of the prize itself, it is their fault and not President Obama's. For once, Glenn Beck, there is something that is NOT Barrack Obama's fault.

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