Peace Prize was pertinent, punctual

On Oct. 9, President Barack Obama awoke to news that he had been chosen to receive the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

In a manner of overflowing respect and humility, the president accepted the award. The prize would serve not as recognition, but as a call to action – a boost to an already rolling movement.

With gratuitous amounts of surprise and resentment, politicians and pundits from the right bashed the decision and mocked the president’s progress that likely made him the recipient. An almost equal amount of criticism came from the left and the middle.

The president was chosen from a group of many well-regarded characters who have accomplished incredible things.

‘ Morgan Tsvangirai and Thich Quang Do were candidates for the prize, but most people do not even know who they are.

The first, the prime minister of Zimbabwe, and the latter, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, were both eventually edged out in the decision.

The fact that many people – especially Americans – criticize the decision shows that the Nobel committee must have made a drastic mistake, right?

‘ Unbeknownst to many, the contributions of the two other finalists made for tremendous efforts and countless hours of thought and arduous work for the committee.

There is no doubt that those who receive Nobel Prizes have enslaved themselves to tremendous thought, complicated decisions and innumerable writings and research.

The Nobel committee, which decided unanimously that our president was deserving of the award, attributed Obama’s work on nuclear weapon proliferation as its main rationale for giving him the prize.

Immediately after Obama was nominated, numerous people all over the world echoed the question, ‘Since when did winning the Nobel Peace Prize become a popularity contest?’

This is an easily dismissed query. Many recipients of the prize have not been popular for their work that resulted in Nobel recognition.

Rooms full of conservatives jeer when Obama deliberates with Russia about nuclear weapon agreements, and even more do so when he peacefully talks with Iran about disarmament.

Tsvangirai has not always been popular in Zimbabwe. His work to create a transparent, democratic government has not been devoid of criticism. Impervious to complications, Tsvangirai has become more powerful in Zimbabwe than he has ever been.

Do, who has fought for religious tolerance and freedom, has been under house arrest for great periods of his life for standing strong with his Unified Buddhist Church.

Obama has not gained significant popularity since he won the award, and maybe he never will.

The efforts Obama has displayed will bring criticism before recognition. The work he has done is tremendous in the sense that our country has already changed its image.

Whereas the previous administration only served to narrow the minds of many in places around the world, under the current leadership, the American image is improving.

Through his rhetoric, promises, and sense of optimism, Obama has convinced and opened minds.

If this award does nothing but sit on a shelf or in the president’s desk, it might be a mistake.

If it inspires, evokes passion and serves as a reminder to what being a great American leader is, then it is not a mistake, but a pertinent and punctual prize.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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