Concerning the Nobel Peace Prize

Posted: October 9, 2009 in News and politics

It was announced today that President Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel peace prize. I am always in a reflective mood when I read accountings of major events. This was no exception. I hearken back to another time.

After Harry S Truman left the White House his daily walks became somewhat famous; and reporters would tail after him asking him questions. One day, after Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace prize, a reporter asked what Mr. Truman thought about Dr. King. His answer was “He’s a trouble-maker”. The reporter followed with “Even though he won the Nobel Peace prize?” Truman, never at a loss for words, responded with “I didn’t give it to him.”

One has to laugh at such arrogance. Ok, so a retired president might be excused for believing he made more of a mark on history than he really did. But to blow off the Nobel committee, which is regarded by a majority of people as a bunch of pretty savvy dudes, begs the question as to the clear thinking of that particular skeptic in the public view.

Fast forward to the year Al Gore and 2000 scientists shared that prestigious prize. I had the misfortune to let myself get hooked into volunteering in an applied math class in a local high-school. One day an Army recruiter visited the classroom and, with the teacher’s permission, did a little reconnoitering with the goal of increasing the population of cannon fodder in our ill-begotten adventure in Iraq.

As he and his subordinate were leaving the classroom (after the students had left), I caught his attention to the subject of a book I was reading. He seemed interested; but wanted to know who wrote it. I hesitated with my guess that knowing the author might prejudice the recruiter. After he insisted, I showed him the book. He snorted his disapproval, confirming my suspicions. His actual response was “What a joke!” And he left before I could respond.

I have a lot of 20/20 hindsight in cases like this. In fact there is a word to describe not having a quick response… I can’t remember what it is; but it is a wonderful expression. I am often at a loss for words. If I could have thought quickly I might have responded with “… and the 20,000 scientists who shared the award?”

I might not have made an immediate impression; but I frequently make a statement of politics to someone who is disagreeing with me. They give me no indication that they’ve changed their minds; but I have the hope that I’ve planted a seed of doubt in their minds.


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