With the stunning news that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, there has been understandable skepticism. Then I got to thinking...
What if the Nobel committee was taking an uncharacteristically broad view of world peace? What if the award wasn't only directed at Barack Obama? What if -- in addition to fostering world peace -- they also wanted to send the citizens of the United States a subtle, inspirational message?
These days, the American people are feeling beleaguered and bereft. We are universally disappointed and disgusted by our senators and representatives, and exhausted by their name-calling, corruption and inability to work together to solve our most pressing problems. We surely have been losing patience with the president, hungry for him to take a firm stand on issues both domestic and foreign. And we have spent many years in the international wilderness, suffering the hatred and disdain of numerous other nations despite the fact that the United Sates has spent trillions (not to mention the cost in American lives) over many years defending and protecting them -- trillions we could sorely use right now.
I do not know the inner workings of the Nobel committee, but could it be they sensed that the "empire" needs help? Coming from Norway, one of the world's wealthiest countries that has focused for a long time on social welfare for its own citizens, perhaps they recognized the stumbling giant needed a lift. Maybe they noticed that Americans are feeling hopeless and wanted us to know they haven't given up on us, want us to feel appreciated, to continue doing our good work and to recall what makes us unique -- to lend us a hand in our hour of need.
Obama is our avatar symbolizing America's special place in and contributions to the world, qualities we, its citizens, have been losing hope of ever reclaiming: The American ability to move things forward, to think in new ways, to open our minds, to be optimistic, to persist in the face of ever-daunting odds.
In particular, it's possible the Nobels want to encourage us to foster peace within our own borders. Interestingly, Obama, himself, alluded to this in his remarks (though I don't think he has fully internalized it yet) when he said
"We can't accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for: the ability to get an education and make a decent living, the security that you won't have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.
I'm also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people."
I am feeling moved and touched. The Nobel Committee has not lost faith in America. And neither should we.