The Loudmouth Protestant

October 9, 2009

Understanding Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Win

When I woke up this morning and heard about Barack Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize my first reaction was not a shout for joy. It wasn’t a cursing the high heavens either. My reaction was one of  indifference. I told my roommate and then I went on about my business getting ready for the day ahead. I got to work late and everyone was sitting around the conference room table talking about how we would cover it. I still wasn’t excited. Finally, I got to my desk and logged onto CNN where I read about how it all went down and there were some curious facts which made eyebrows raise:

The nomination process ended on Feb.1, 12 days after he took office and the committee began to solicit nominations in September 2008, 2 months before he was elected.

Having read that and others thoughts on Obama’s premature receipt of the award, I was feeling a bit weary about it all. I thought he received the award prematurely not knowing exactly what he did beyond inspire a nation to get it. Sure he lights up a room with his smile, shifts the nation and world at large with his mere presence, is brilliant and gives some great speeches, but why? Yes, foreign leaders love him, but they do so to their benefit, not his or ours. Why? So many questions swirling around in my mind for why he should get the award this soon. I should be clear that I am not not proud of him, I am. I am an African-American woman who is only now seeing my reflection in the landscape of America through the presence of Obama and his family.  But I still couldn’t wrap my mind around why he should get the award for his efforts and not his accomplishments. And then the moment of revelation came through some friends. I will not seek to transpose their words, I will just share them straightaway because that is how powerful they are.

“You know…I honestly think that the way the decision was made is nothing short of the glory of God on this one. You know He likes to use people that everyone else overlooks, and the way He works, you don’t see it coming, it doesn’t make complete “sense” as to how it happens. It’s just favor, straight up.” (A Friend Whose Name Rhymes with Freon)

“To me the decision to give him the Nobel peace prize is the ultimate act of stepping out on faith. You can debate whether he deserved it, but we all know that he needs it.

Giving the daunting tasks that he has before him in regards to the war in Afghanistan, fighting for healthcare, trying to mend our planet, etc., I feel this is the perfect time for him to be reminded of his greater purpose.

I agree with (redacted) who commented on what he has accomplished. I certainly didn’t think an African American would be elected during my lifetime. Let alone make the entire world stop and listen. I guess I’m wondering how some of you define accomplishment. I still get goose bumps when I think of the images from election night when the entire world celebrated this man’s victory. That is a paradigm shift not just winning a political election. There is nothing irrational about recognizing that.

I believe the committee was wise enough to recognize when a cause needs a burst of momentum. I’m  as proud as I was on election night and when I watched him be sworn into office in January. He continues to be humble even in his speech this afternoon when he said he didn’t believe he deserved to be in the company of the other recipients. But he does. The last man this country got so inspired by was MLK.” A Friend Whose Name Rhymes with McLaren

After reading these two responses I was shaken to the core because I realized I was only trying to understand why Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize with human knowledge. I was only looking horizontally, but when faced with the upward vertical perspective I was changed and convicted. How could I be so harsh about him winning the award when he has shifted the atmosphere of the world and cultivated community simply by running for president. He did affect change before he moved into the White House, I can’t deny that. Did any of us imagine there’d be a day when millions of people from all walks of life, all religions, spiritual backgrounds and races would come together to campaign for one black man to be president? That is only the kind of unification that can be crafted by an incredible God. And I did give honor to God for placing Obama in the White House when he was elected president back in November 2008. I don’t think it was all about a vote. It was all about the sovereignty of God and His desire to prove to the world just how awesome He is.

So, here we are again at another crossroads where we can either argue for days on in about whether Obama is worthy of the award. Whether he deserves it—which, if you let him tell it, he doesn’t.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter if we think we deserves it, it is already done. But what those who would—pointing the biggest, longest finger at myself—should acknowledge is that this is all God and no one else. That was my problem all along trying to find a human justification for it. But there can be none since we are so weak and so flawed. It is God. So I leave you with these last words on the matter as written by my partner in prayer blogging, Mark Herringshaw,

“My point is not to comment pro or con on worthiness. I’m suggesting that any recognition of any human agent of peace should be wrapped in a prayerful recognition that Jesus alone is the “Prince of Peace” and peace as a real human condition can ONLY come from him…”


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