Nobel Peace Prize
President Obama got lucky; he won the Nobel Peace Prize a little early. Good on him. The award which is given on December 10 Human Rights Day in Oslo, Norway, of this year. The date is a remembrance of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Paris, France in 1948. This award ceremony honoring our president will be watched like an Oscar audience all over the world.
For those of us who voted for Obama, we hope he will not merit the treatment the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has suffered. Little known to most people, the UDHR has been read by less than 5% of the world. Governments neglect it and abuse it on a regular basis. They surely do not publish it, though that was mandated by the actual documents. Forgotten and neglected, the Nobel Award is the single annual event that honors the UDHR. Even Amnesty International until 1993 did not adopt all 30 articles of the UDHR. Most human groups seldom use it. Those collective rights bother the West and many human rights groups. There is a great love of individual rights in the West but little time for collective rights, though they live and breathe in the same UDHR as do the individuals rights. i.e. The lack of respect from Wall St regarding the common good has brought down the USA economy to near collapse. The common good in the UDHR is clear and straight forward.
After all, most human rights monies are raised and spent in the West. The left side of the UDHR has suffered from the lack of the strength, money and power of the constituency in the non-West. Not many large offices or big salaries in human rights groups outside of New York, London, Geneva and Washington.
A reading of ‘Heartbeat and a Guitar’ by Antonio D’Ambrosio tells us the heartache and glory of Johnny Cash who use his music to remember moments of national embarrassment of slavery and land stealing away from the Native people. Awards like songs can become heavy burdens. For if one absorbs the agony of the Apache and the Cherokee, if we remember the ‘strange fruit’ of slavery, a musician changes as does the listener. Johnny Cash sang them all into musical history. Like Cash, the President is a student of history. Obama knows that December 10 is about the stories of the other Peace Prize winners; the struggle of Christians in Ireland, the loss of so many Cambodians, six million Jews, apartheid’s lasting for so long until Tutu and Mandela, the disastrous war of Vietnam for us and them, the massive human rights abuses of military regimes like Argentina, Chile, Burma, especially raping of women as a state policy….all these times and events lived and live in the souls of the Peace Prize winners. By osmosis, Obama will inherit them as well. They are a burden to bear. Surely, sad lessons to learn, but must be learned to avoid repetition.
Our young President will get a little older. The Prize wants him to become wiser as well. The chasm between rich and poor; the chasm between Islam and the other faiths; the chasm between a nation empire in support of wars as opposed to a nation state in support of peace will emerge; ecology beloved or damned….these chasms and more will surface in the ceremony. Obama will be handed the greatest prize in the world……on the day the greatest document ever written for all of us on earth was signed. My question is simple….will our president accept the prize with the document? Or like former American presidents and award winners, he will take one without the other. Hope not.
The poor everywhere deserve nothing less.
The world will await Obama’s acceptance speech. With the Peace Prize in his hand, I hope he gives the best speech he has ever given using the frame work of all 30, yes, articles of the UDHR. After 62 years, the real prize is the UDHR and what Obama will do about it.
After all, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin L King, Jr. used a document, namely the Constitution, to move this country forward. Maybe, this President will move our world forward using a document as well. The UDHR. The dream worked. Now for the hope.