Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
He became one of only four U.S. presidents to be awarded this honor, only the third sitting president, and the only to win in his first term. While I am just as shocked by the news as everyone else in the world — other than the Norwegian Nobel Committee, of course — I have to say that I am disappointed in America's reaction.
I remember someone else who recently won an award and was then told that they didn't deserve it. For those of you who did not watch the VMAs, Taylor Swift was awarded Best Female Video and Kanye West crashed the stage during her acceptance speech. This caused an incredible uproar heard around the globe — I know, because I was in Italy and I still heard about it with little internet or tv access. Viewers and participators alike were astounded and disgruntled by his actions. Who was he to decide whether or not she deserved that which was given to her based on a vote?
Of course today's situation is a much more serious issue, and it is for this reason that I am disheartened. (I can guarantee that I didn't spend any time researching the VMA awards process because of his reaction.) Yes, I voted for obama, but I can honestly say that if I hadn't, I would still be proud for our country and our leaders when given such a prestigious accolade.
As I said, I too was shocked at first, which is why I scoured the internet all afternoon to learn more about the process and the reasoning behind this year's selection. In my research I found this article, which was printed two days ago, describing the type of person wanted by the committee.
"It's quite likely this committee will reward somebody who is engaged in current processes," said Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the International Peace Institute in Oslo (PRIO).
"They want the prize to have an impact on things that are about to happen and want to affect events," he told Reuters.
After reading this, I understand their decision, granted it is still hard to accept him entering the realm of previous laureates — Kofi Annan, nelson Mandela, the Dalai, lama, Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many more. Obama has a lot to live up to, but clearly the hope of the committee was that the award would prompt actions resulting in peace.
My hope is that America can stop focusing on partisan politics, using this as a way to yet again point out Obama's faults, and instead take this day to come together in pride for our country, using this as a way to unite against the many tasks at hand, both in our country and abroad.
As Obama said, this is "a call to action." It's not just a call for him though.