There will be a lot of people who want to use the Nobel Committee’s awarding of the Peace Prize to Barack Obama as proof of something.
Those who support Obama will claim that it is an award that proves Obama’s dedication to bringing peace to a divided world. Those who oppose Obama will claim that it is an award given in the absence of real action or accomplishment.
I think both sides of this argument miss the fact that such prizes are meaningless in the face of practical observation: the world is not at peace and is no closer to it now than it has ever been. That Obama received a prize from people who hope for such peace has no real bearing on such an observation.
For me, the proof of this observation lies in the very argument over the nature of Obama receiving the prize itself. I have always believed that true peace is the absence of conflict–it is the harmony of all things with all things on earth and in heaven. Yet, this prize has created conflict and, I believe, only served to deepen the divisions between people already deeply divided.
On one hand, there are those who support Obama by trying to reinvent the history we all have lived through in recent years, claiming that anyone who does not believe what they do is somehow devoid of intellect, reason, or morality. They will claim that such disbelievers are the problem and must be expunged from the society they wish to invent through hostility, ridicule, and conceit. They will lay the blame for the world’s ills at the feet of their opponents even as they embrace an award for peace and the man who received it.
On the other hand, those who oppose Obama will ridicule the award, the hope it seeks to inspire, and the people who believe in its worth. They will do so with endless mocking that very rarely presents practical solutions of its own. They will demand that their opponents agree with their position without ever trying to explain it and, worse, often without ever doing anything about it themselves. They will make claims to past deeds of others as proof of the validity of their own way of thinking, but they will never stand on the merits of their own actions.
Between these two opponents, the conflict will rage, making an ironic mockery of the very event that inspired it.
I do not believe peace is possible between men in this age, but if it were possible, such peace would be built from the actions of men who know that establishing it requires building understanding and brotherhood between all men. In other words, peace would come through unambiguous action. No prize, however well intended, has ever accomplished that task, nor will the bickering of political sides whose major definition is lack of action.