Friday, November 06, 2009

Earning the Award

A few weeks ago, President Barak Obama was awarded one of the highest honors that can be given to a person. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. This is an honor that only three other United States Presidents have ever won. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter have all been honored by the committee.

The Nobel Peace Prize was created by the will of Alfred Nobel, best known at the time of his death as the inventor of dynamite. Nobel, in his will created five awards that are to be given out annually: Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Peace, the first one was awarded in 1901. In 1969 an award for Economics was added as an associated award.

What has been interesting is the flap over President Obama winning the award. Rush Limbaugh called it a joke, former Vice President Cheney’s daughter Liz Cheney suggested that Obama should send a message to the Nobel Committee at the Dec. 10 awards ceremony in Oslo, by skipping the ceremony and sending the mother of a fallen soldier to show the importance of the Afghanistan war efforts, and Michael Steele (chairman of the Republican National Committee) suggested that Obama won because of his "star power" rather than meaningful accomplishments.

We can all debate the merits of the honor. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who won the prize in 1984, may have put it best when he said the decision showed that great things are expected from Obama and "wonderful recognition" of his effort to reach out to the Arab world after years of hostility.

I guess that is my hope. That this is the beginning of a new way of looking at the world, and hopefully of the world looking at the United States. But one other thought comes to mind.

On January 27th, 2007, at the Annual Ball of the Munster Chamber of Commerce I was bestowed with the honor of “Citizen of the Year.” The requirements for this honor are: participate in civic activities which do the greatest good for the largest number of people, and be engaged in service and leadership which exemplifies the Chamber’s role in the community.

I hate to say this – I didn’t deserve the reward. I had not met those requirements. But, starting September 15th, 2008 I did. Ever since receiving that honor, I have felt like I needed to do something to “earn it” (I know, bad theology). But it is true. I wonder sometimes if winning that award, prepared me to take a leadership role following the historic floods.

And I wonder, if we can’t all hope and pray for the same thing for Barak Obama. I don’t want him to fail – too much is at stake. Maybe this honor will spur him on to make the USA the leader in a new era, and era of peace and cooperation in the world.

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