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:

    @Jin,
    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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 20 hours ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 21 hours ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 3 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 3 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 3 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago