Eugen Brand : Obama’s Nobel Prize : Peace, Service and Ending Poverty
EDITORIAL Revue Quart Monde n°212 (november 2009)
Mis à jour le jeudi 22 décembre 2011.
Some ask whether it was too early to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama. Although his role in international diplomacy is indeed new, this award can be welcomed as a crucial recognition that the path towards peace is woven also from a daily commitment to serving one’s community and by tackling concentrated poverty. Obama’s years of community organizing have shaped his vision that « people are not the problem—they are the answer. » His call to service underscores the contributions all people have to make, as he shapes opportunities for young people who are out of school and out of work. In his ambitious vision for eradicating poverty, Obama has pledged « to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow ; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. »
On the path towards peace, we have learned that those with revolt in their hearts will not be freed of it unless others are freed of their own blindness. In every country, individuals, families or whole communities and populations are displaced, forced into exile, pushed out or stripped of everything. The strong continue to decide for the weak, on the pretext of protecting them. Some live with more and more security, at the price of complete insecurity for others. Faced with the disdain for people in extreme poverty that society can replicate from one generation to the next, men and women, children and young people, can no longer put up with the shame, the looks that see right past you, as though you were not there.
And when it becomes possible to go beyond fear, to look one another in the eye, to unite our voices, to sit down together around the table, to understand our personal and collective histories—because of this a new intelligence is emerging. Peace becomes possible. The dignity of each person replaces humiliation, learning from one another takes the place of ignorance, and personal commitment gives hope where once there was despair. Each and every human being carries seeds of peace, seeds of recognizing one another’s dignity, seeds of the sisterhood and brotherhood that can free children and their families from the morass of shame and failure by restoring pride in their own history.
As we congratulate Obama, may we all, young and old, be people laboring in the face of extreme poverty to forge a heritage of dignity and peace for the next generations.