Friday, October 9, 2009

President Obama Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

We woke to the news streaming across the crawl on the bottom of the NECN screen. Chuck was the first to spot it. We both exclaimed with a mixture of surprise and delight. Because we were rushing around to get ready to go to Rhode Island, all I had time to do was Tweet: “President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy & cooperation between people"!” But as I hurried to make breakfast and get out the door, George Gershwin’s line kept running through my mind: “No, no, they can’t take that away from me...” I smiled as I realized what my subconscious was cogitating. I went to the bottom of the stairs and called up to Chuck: “They can never take that away from him!”

Ronnie in South Africa Tweeted at me: “So chuffed [pleased or proud] about the news of Pres obama! Your thoughts? It's a big prize to live up to...” Much later, I replied: “We are thrilled! Yes, it is early, but he steadied the ship of state during the transition & has reached out to the world!”

Are there ironies and incongruities in President Obama having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? Yes. Is it premature? No. “Unlike the other Nobel Prizes, which recognize completed scientific or literary accomplishment, the Nobel Peace Prize may be awarded to persons or organizations that are in the process of resolving a conflict or creating peace.” Am I proud? Yes! I am proud of President Obama and honored that a sitting President of the United States has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize!

But it was President Obama who struck all the right notes this morning when he began his remarks this way: “Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning.  After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, "Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!"  And then Sasha added, "Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up."  So it's good to have kids to keep things in perspective.”

He continued: “I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee.  Let me be clear:  I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. 

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build -- a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents.  And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.  And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.”

Near his conclusion he said: “...this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity...”

That sounds like the man I voted for. That sounds like someone who takes the honor of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize seriously, with humility and with increased determination to work doggedly to do what is needed for our nation domestically and to live up to this award internationally.

You can read the full transcript and watch the video of President Obama’s remarks here.

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