Friday, October 9, 2009

If You Don't Deserve It, Why Accept?

Today, President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. The reaction around the world is mixed, at best. For many the question is simply, "What has he done to deserve it?"

I've waited until the President could address the issue in his own words to comment. Now that he has addressed the issue, I am furious.

Obama himself sought to put some distance between himself and the ward, saying, “I do not view it as a recognition of my own acomplishments, but a recognition of the role of American leadership” in the world.

“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures” who won in the past, Obama said at the White House.

My question goes directly to the President's credibility after this statement, directly to his honor. It is simple. If you don't feel you deserve the award, why are you accepting it?

If you don't feel like you've accomplished anything that deserves reward, you should step aside from accepting the award. After the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Al Gore for tenuous reasoning, at best, many around the world began to view the award as having lost its credibility. This award has long stood as the highest honor a man or woman could receive for either a lifetime of hard effort toward promoting peace, or a monumental achievement in promoting world diplomacy.

Woodrow Wilson won the award for leading the establishment of the League of Nations, and shaping the Treaty of Versailles. Teddy Roosevelt won the award for negotiating the end to the Russo-Japanese War. The Dalai Lama won the award for a lifetime of promoting Tibetan freedom through peaceful resistance to the iron fist of an oppressive government. These are all phenomenal accomplishments that were capable of carrying the weight of one of the highest honors in the world.

If the man selected to win the award cannot reasonably conceive of any reason that he should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the only reasonable thing he can do to allow the award to hold its legitimacy is to graciously refuse to accept the award. There are surely other people who have devoted themselves to promoting peace around the world through major accomplishments. Two better qualified candidates listed by the Globe and Mail come to mind:
Denis Mukwege, Medical doctor

Seeing pregnant women arrive at the hospital on a donkey and dying during childbirth encouraged Mukwege to study gynaecology and obstetrics. Noticing that so many women had been sexually abused, he later founded the Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hundreds of thousands of female sexual violence victims have been helped so far.

Handicap International and Cluster Munition Coalition

These organizations are recognized for their consistently serious efforts to clean up cluster bombs, also known as land mines. Innocent civilians are regularly killed worldwide because the unseen bombs explode when stepped upon. Thirty-four nations are known to have air-dropped cluster bombs from the 1970s to the 1990s.

The President giving up an award he himself does not feel he deserves, for the sake of allowing it to be awarded to a person or group far more deserving would not only restore legitimacy to the Nobel Peace Prize, but would also shine a glowing light on the works of many other individual candidates and groups who are working every day to promote peace world wide. His rejection of the award would do more for these organizations in one fell swoop in terms of them receiving new volunteers or donations than they might ever expect otherwise.

Unfortunately, it appears he will accept anyway, as he spews more useless rhetoric.
“I will accept this award as a call to action, a call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st Century.”

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