Monday, October 12, 2009

To draw out the Mama Bear, Threaten the Cub

No. I don't see myself as our president's mother; he is the first president who is younger than me (when did I get this old?) But there are only a few years between us. But the last Friday, when I saw the first headline that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, I started looking for the byline of a parody website such as "The Onion." I had seen no announcement anywhere of this except one lone header; nothing on the New York Times, nothing on, etc., so I assumed it was a joke-much like the Superman/Messiah insults that were thrown at him during the campaign. But then more and more news sites started to report the story, and I couldn't help thinking, "Isn't this early?" I made that very comment on my Facebok page, and started a firestorm that last all day long, and left some of my good friends bruised, with hurt feelings because of the passion and anger the two sides of the discussion took.

Full disclosure; I voted for Obama, and I like him. I like the direction he wants to take our country in. If I didn't, I wouldn't have voted for him. I'm not a party loyalist, but I am fairly liberal. I also unabashedly love my country. I love that we have the freedom here to have opposing points of view, and not feel threatened b expressing these views. For that reason, I try to disagree in a civilized way-use my freedom with circumspection. If I attack my opponents into hiding, I could be attacked the same way next. I have a problem with people who surround themselves daily with onl people and news sources that agree with their point of view. I think that kind of thinking with blinders on makes the reaction to other views one of shock and anger; "What-some people really feel THAT way!?" Exposing ourselves regularly to opposing points of view can prevent that visceral reaction by allowing a realization of the existence of "those others" and buffering surprise that the world is not what we assume as we live in our shells. But again, I digress.

I disagree with the Nobel committee. I disagree with giving an 'aspirational' award. I know it isn't the first time, but I still disagree. However, the visceral reaction of those who want our president to fail, and have said so since before he took office, got my defenses up. I asked them, and still ask, how do they feel about the three American doctors who won for their research on aging? People still get old. There is no cure for Alezheimer's Disease. There is no cure for aging-so these researchers, for all their hard work and years of study-have they really done anything?

I have to say that every day last week, as the announcements of the prizes were made, I was proud every time I saw, "Three Americans Win ..." And it seems that every day another American was announced a winner for something. I've had two connections with universities that had Nobel Prize winners on their staffs, and this was a gift to the universities. Science students love the idea of learning from professors who have received great honors for their work. Donors and alumni love it too-it usually means monetary gifts for those schools, which lead to more scholarships and more modern laboratories. What is the downside? On top of that, there is the notion of "American Exceptionalism." What can support that argument better than Americans being recognized by foreign committees that look at contributions to these areas from people all over the world? I am proud of our chemists, medical doctors, physicists, economists, and, yes, our president for this recognition.

It may have been too early, but the award has been given. President Obama was humble, and amitted that he didn't deserve to be in the company of some of the others who have won the award. He will not keep the money, and I'm sure he is aware of all the criticism that his opponents have heaped on him because of this award. So, can we just say, "Hurrah for America," and forget about our liberal/conservative differences for awhile?

And if the Nobel committee is going to keep giving aspirational awards, I can only hope that our president earns the award by the time he leaves office, and that we actually, for once, enter an era of peace.

1 comment:

Brian Terrell said...

Yes, we can say "Hurrah for America!". This may work out well for our country. It's just that for those of us who do not like Obama, who did not vote for him and do not like the direction he's taking the country - this really sticks in our craw! But we'll get over this particular episode. We have to because there's some new outrage from this administration almost daily. I think it's on purpose. I've never seen our country so agitated on the right and the left. But that's what we get for electing a "community agitator" for President.