"Bama got the Peace Prize!"
It was my mother's voice on the other end of the phone, talking about the most important news of the new day. These were the first meaningful words of a conversation that usually concerns her every-other-day preparations for dialysis treatment. If the news reports are correct, she got the information shortly after the President did-- the radio in her Detroit bedroom is tuned to the all-news station and comes on at 5 A.M. every morning.
Her fading eyesight and the fact that daily papers are going to the Internet have robbed her of the ability to read the news. She now tunes in to the 24-hour news stations to augment her views. Unlike the rest of the world, the president's selection by the Nobel Committee comes as no surprise to her. "They see him as a sign of hope."
My mother's deductive reasoning skills seem to rival those of the pundits who are well paid to tell us what to think. She proves that the lack of a formal education is no impediment to making informed decisions.
Taking her example as a point of departure, I concluded that the Nobel Committee took its cues from the world's reaction to Obama's election. They see in him an embodiment of hope because he embraces the ideals shared by many around the world. Thanks, Mom.
For those goal-oriented people who argue, "It's too soon," or "He hasn't done anything yet," they miss the point. While writers, poets and scientists usually win the award for what they have accomplished, statesmen, philosophers, and other persons of ideas are honored for the causes that they champion. Al Gore didn't win for abolishing the effects of global warming, but for embracing the necessity to educate the world of its dangers. Neither Jimmy Carter nor Ralph Bunche succeeded in erasing homelessness, nor bringing peace to the Middle East. Obama, in his acceptance speech, humbly recognizes that the award is for the promise and ideals that he embraces, not the goals achieved.
What critics fail to see is that the award honors the nation and its core beliefs as much as the man, an affirmation of what we stand for and aspire to be. Obama's selection acknowledges that inspiring hope matters as much as accomplishments.
An interesting irony is that there is more celebration over NASA crashing a rocket into a crater on the dark side of the moon than there is for the President winning the Nobel Prize for embracing principles shared by people around the world and restoring diplomacy. Our space achievement, while expanding our knowledge about the moon, may have greater significance for extending the arms race.
Maybe upon reflection we as a nation will understand that Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite and whose fortune supports the award, wanted to make the point that a bigger bang comes from embracing ideas and ideals that celebrate the better side of human nature.
"Bama got the Peace Prize!"