S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fresh on my mind . . .

President Obama has accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace before the royal family in Oslo, Norway, and before the rest of the world.  His ensuing speech was one of the reasons for the Nobel committee's decision many months ago to bestow the award for "aspiration," rather than a proven record of peace making.  And about that the President was truly humbled.   

While it was fresh on my mind, this is what I posted on Twitter:

Obama's peace speech was amazing! It was direct & oblique, plain-spoken & sophisticated, about yesterday & the future, rational & spiritual.

Some further reflections while the address is still new in my thoughts  -- The speech brought tears in my eyes to the surface almost throughout.  For that I do not apologize. I would much rather admire Barack Obama than join his growing army of carping critics.  I was again inspired this man's combination of humility and ambition to make things better.

As teacher he referred several times to previous Nobel recipients - Wilson, Martin Luther King, and to other heroes - John Kennedy and Mahatma Ghandi.  He gave an astonishingly sophisticated lecture of the world's historic struggle between war and peace beginning with Cain and Abel.  Throughout he referred to those same struggles in our own country, including obliquely to a recent time when we did not do it well, by unilaterally invading Iraq and torturing prisoners.  Talking about the oversimplification of the question of war vs. peace, the President raised the concept of the "just war," or fighting to support oppressed peoples, as some of the more difficult moral questions nations face.  In this he seemed to be trying to guide the community of nations to think in slightly different ways from the past.

Reinforcing President Obama's commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, another theme spoke to the need for nations uniting behind imposing stiff consequences,  short of war, on nations who break the rules or ignore individual human rights.  He also used the occasion for a short discussion of the unity that will be needed to combat global warming with all its dire implications.  As the man who inspired the committee on behalf of the rest of us, the President ended with words about what a more peaceful world could do if everyone pulled together.

Speaking in what sounded like what he would say plainly in his own words, the President was striking in his candor about the ironic realities he faces, being the commander in chief of the U.S. forces in the escalating war in Afghanistan, at the same time as he was speaking as a peace honoree.  For this speech he was totally engaged.  There were no hints of distraction in his speaking, nor in those listening.  The applause was at appropriate times and certainly not throughout.  His audience was taking the measure of the man.  He got a sustained standing ovation at its conclusion.


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