Eugene Cho

obama, the nobel peace prize, bono and rebranding america

from the NY Times

Like many folks couple weeks ago, I was stunned that Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, I thought it was some sort of joke but alas, it was legit. But I did manage to get couple tweets in there including this one:

Re: Obama: all he did was say to the world, “Hello”, “We’re sorry” & “Let’s Talk”… All good things but Nobel was premature.

…but was surprised at the number of responses via Twitter & Facebook. Many people seemed to have an opinion.

What did you think?

Again, I wasn’t a big fan but then I read this quote from Cornel West and it got me thinking that this Nobel Peace Prize was indeed a forward looking prize if there’s such a thing.

“It is going to be very hard to be a war president, when you win the peace prize.”

And then I read this pretty amazing column from Bono entitled ReBranding America in yesterday’s NY Times. Here’s an excerpt:

A FEW years ago, I accepted a Golden Globe award by barking out an expletive.

One imagines President Obama did the same when he heard about his Nobel, and not out of excitement.

…Well, I happen to be European, and I can project with the best of them. So here’s why I think the virtual Obama is the real Obama, and why I think the man might deserve the hype. It starts with a quotation from a speech he gave at the United Nations last month:

“We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.”

They’re not my words, they’re your president’s. If they’re not familiar, it’s because they didn’t make many headlines. But for me, these 36 words are why I believe Mr. Obama could well be a force for peace and prosperity — if the words signal action.

The millennium goals, for those of you who don’t know, are a persistent nag of a noble, global compact. They’re a set of commitments we all made nine years ago whose goal is to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Barack Obama wasn’t there in 2000, but he’s there now. Indeed he’s gone further — all the way, in fact. Halve it, he says, then end it.

Many have spoken about the need for a rebranding of America. Rebrand, restart, reboot. In my view these 36 words, alongside the administration’s approach to fighting nuclear proliferation and climate change, improving relations in the Middle East and, by the way, creating jobs and providing health care at home, are rebranding in action.

These new steps — and those 36 words — remind the world that America is not just a country but an idea, a great idea about opportunity for all and responsibility to your fellow man. [full column]

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6 Responses

  1. Andy M says:

    Does the man deserve the Nobel? Maybe, maybe not, we’ll see how things go from here. But do I have a problem with him receiving it? No, because at the very least he is receiving a symbol of appreciation and hope from the world just for trying to set this country on a new path. A year ago that was impossible, so he has achieved something significant.

  2. Carol Fenton says:

    We are all responsible for holding our local and national government officials accountable, so that these commitments can be met. They must be met for human trafficking and modern day slavery to end. ~Carol

  3. Lori says:

    Do I think Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize? NO!

  4. Jin says:

    an award is something one gets for something they’ve done. its that simple. he’s had beer, he’s been inspirational, and he’s been responsible for me trading in my 1985 Ford Van for 4500 for a 2009 Honda CRV. It must say in the requirements for the Nobel, ‘recipient must implement policy enabling Jin to get a new car.’ YOU GIVE THE AWARD OF ALL AWARDS TO SOMEBODY WHO HAS DONE SOMETHING… NOT WHAT THEY MAY DO. Even the most successful diplomatic encounter in his presidency wasn’t achieved by him, but by my man Bill.

    The fact that we have a black president in office and all the inspiring things that fact represents has absolutely nothing to do with Obama… it has everything to do with fact that the people of this country have chosen to look past the race and politics to elect him. There is no doubt that blatant and systemic racism are still very much alive, but in this case people done good.

    don’t get me wrong, obama is/was my choice. but this is turning into idolatry. There are songs about him being sung by children in NJ. WTF?!?!

    He’s only been in office for 9 months.. he could f**k it up in the next 3 years… he could be one of the greatest presidents we’ll ever see, or he could just end up being a smooth talker that doesn’t get anything done.

  5. lukedaniel says:

    Do I agree with there choice… no. Did I agree when they gave it to Al Gore… no. Frankly I feel the committee for the Nobel Peace Prize is trying to use the prize to change things, not reward people who have changed things. I feel this change in direction is strange, but who am I? I might have to agree with Bono on this one though. I too like the direction that Obama is taking and his no-nonsense straight forward tackling of these heavey issues.
    The Nobel Peace Prize committee can give the prize to whomever they want, it’s there prize. If they want it to mean anything in the future, I think that they should be careful with it and not use it as a tool, or to try and push things one way or another. But hey I’m not them, and they can choose whatever they like.
    So Obama, congrats, I’m glad you gave the 1.4 million to charity, and I hope you use the prestige that has traditionally come with this prize in a responsible manner. Buenos suerte.

  6. Andy M says:

    There were songs about George W. too. That kind of idolatry is common with our nationalistic pride. I’m not saying it is right, but it actually has little to nothing to do with Obama.

    What bothers me a bit is when I have seen some of the criticisms of Obama receiving the award, is that they are acting like Obama arrogantly gave the award to himself, like he had control over the decision. When in reality I imagine that he would rather that they had given it to someone else given the kind of attention it has drawn.

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One Day’s Wages

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The Western Wall in Old City of Jerusalem (aka The Wailing Wall) - from the Second Jewish Temple.

I'm hoping to share a few stories of people that I met (Jewish, Muslims, and Christians) in the Holy Land in the days to come. One of our Palestinian tour guides said to me, "You will leave with more questions...and that's a good thing." He was absolutely right. We want everything so nicely packaged but if we're honest, it's very rare in a broken, complex world...and I can't think of too many things more complex than the situation in Israel and Palestine.

While I certainly understand and resonate with Israel and its history and its need to protect itself from harm, one can't deny the history and existence of Palestine as well. 
Is peace possible? This was the focus of my trip to the Holy learn more about the conflict and those that are working towards peace. My friend, Scott (and other pastor), Mae (our guide) and I had the privilege of going to a Jewish synagogue this past Friday. We were then hosted by a local rabbi and his family for a Shabbat meal. It was marvelous. Incredible. Illuminating. Delicious. A true honor to be invited to his home with his wife and three children. To pray, learn, share, and ask questions. 
What I loved the most was the story of how Rabbi Daniel and his wife rented a bus to take 15 of their friends to the West Bank ... to see for themselves the impact of the wall and the Israeli policies. Some of their friends had never even entered the West Bank...don't personally know a Palestinian. It's impossible to work towards peace when we don't know anyone from the other side...when we don't understand the other side.

Thank you, Rabbi Daniel. Old Jerusalem. So many stories. So much history. The synagogue in Capernaum (Galilee) where Jesus began his public ministry. He taught with authority... Pray for your pastors and teachers...that they may teach with courage, conviction, humility, and ultimately, directing people to Christ - the Word made flesh.

Speaking of, so excited to be teaching at @Quest Church tomorrow. If you're in the Seattle area, join us. A glimpse of Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." What amazes me most about this event is about...timing and patience. For Christ, it wasn't about "if" but about "when." In a world of supersonic pace,  impatience, quick results, hurry and now and NOW...Jesus waited for the Father's timing. He was patient and faithful. I need to learn that waiting on the Lord in itself isn't apathy but rather an act of faith. The town of Bethlehem and at the site of the cave (aka manger) of the birth of Christ.

One of the highlights was a class of Palestinian Muslims and Christian kids in a local public school singing a Christmas carol for us in Bethlehem...just across the Shepherd's Field. Galilee. Surreal to be at the mountainside where Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount" ... aka The Beatitudes. Walking around praying for Paris, Beirut, Istanbul, Nigeria, Mali, Palestine/Israel... This verse is so particularly important in light of all the violence in the world. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9

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