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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One Day’s Wages

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

my tweets

  • It's been years since Seattle Sonics "became" the OKC Thunder. Still stings. Seattle deserves a team before OKC gets a title. That is all. || 11 hours ago
  • That time when nearly everyone laughed at @KlayThompson when he said he was the best shooting guard in the NBA. || 11 hours ago
  • The best part of wanting to change the world...is being humbled, learning you're not the savior of the world & being changed in the process. || 23 hours ago
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  • There's much to ponder in this article. Much to repent. Much to grieve. "Seattle's vanishing black community." - seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-mag… || 2 days ago

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