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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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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