Obama and the Peace Prize

Nobel Peace PrizeI know that the Nobel Peace Prize is a big deal, but in a lot of ways it isn’t a big deal.  It’s an award.  It’s a recognition gained after nominations are made and a group of people vote on them.

There have been jokes as of late that Barack Obama hasn’t done anything (SNL, anyone?), but I’ve always believed that the problem with change is that people want to see it too fast.  People are too quick to criticize because they’re in the position to do so, they’re not leading a country, entering into office in the midst of a recession, a war that was supposed to be over, and trying to find the balance between helping people find jobs and have healthcare.

None of the above warrants a Nobel Prize.  It’s his job.  But he wasn’t nominated and received this award because of his job as President of the United States of America.  He was nominated and received this award for something not as tangible as job employment percentages and passing legislation.  He was nominated for “captur[ing] the world’s attention and giv[ing] its people hope for a better future.”

And so, it’s nice he won the prize.  Can we leave at that?  Can we not equate the Nobel Peace Prize to “how good is Barack Obama as president?” award. Last I checked, they give this award annually because peace is something to strive for and never to be obtained.  I think we all know he hasn’t had time to be given accolades for being President of the United States yet, that he has had to spend the majority of his presidency making sure we don’t fall flat on our faces.

Even Barack Obama knows that: “Let me be clear. I do not view [the Nobel Peace Prize] as recognition of my own accomplishments but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”

And maybe instead of being divided on why he won it, maybe we should just be glad that an American leader did in a time of economic recession and war and a history of growing negatives attitudes toward this country.  Everyone would have agreed we didn’t “deserve” it a few years ago.  The fact that we’re divided between negative and positive attitudes about this, well, that’s grounds for improvement.