Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

The news that US President Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize is worthy of note, regardless of the fact that it has nothing to do with ham radio. What is particularly noteworthy about this award is that, as far as world peace goes, President Obama has not yet achieved very much. The committee that gave the award admits as much. The head of the committee Thorbjoern Jagland is quoted as saying that the award was made because: "we would like to support what he is trying to achieve. It is a clear signal that we want to advocate the same as he has done."

As a radio amateur I often have contact with American citizens and sometimes hear their political and world views. As a European I am often astonished at the harshness of some Americans towards their fellow citizens less fortunate than themselves - in the matter of universal healthcare, for example - and the bullying insensitivity of their foreign policy views. And I am frequently amazed at the outright hatred expressed by some Americans towards their new President. No matter how great the contempt many in the UK have for Gordon Brown and his government you would never find British radio amateurs adding overtly political taglines to their forum postings the way many Americans do at QRZ.com.

I wonder whether those Americans who dislike President Obama so much actually understand how hated America was by so many people in the rest of the world under the Bush regime? I wonder if they knew how many tens of thousands of people in places like London and Berlin assembled to hear the US presidential election results and wept with joy and relief when the news came through that Obama had won? My wife and I both stayed up until the early hours when the result was known, and shed tears of joy too. Obama's election may have meant many things to the American people, but to us it meant the possibility of a more reconciliatory America, one that would listen to the other point of view and accept that other creeds, other religions and other political systems have a right to exist too.

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize on the basis of intentions rather than achievements, the rest of the world is sending a signal to American conservatives that their world view is outmoded, unhelpful and unwanted. I congratulate President Obama on his award, and pray that he is given the time to achieve what he has set out to do.
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