Sunday, December 6, 2009

On War and Peace

United States President Barack Obama spoke yesterday in Oslo at the ceremony at which he was presented the Nobel Peace Prize. With what must come to be called characteristic class, he referenced deftly the ugly actions of recent America, while pointing out that which continues to be justifiable. He challenged the nations of the Earth to stand up to injustice, and to hold violators of what we all recognize to be human rights accountable. He called for citizens of the world to band together in enlightened self-interest to help secure a better future for our progeny.

He called for clarity regarding use of force, reminded his audience that violence has been a fact since the dawn of man, putting things into perspective, context. The faces of many in the audience echoed my own at moments when I feared the President may have misstepped. There were members of the audience whose egos were not broken, who were not sold on the ideas presented. I hope that some of these people will see footage of themselves and be compelled to examine themselves and their beliefs. I do not claim that they are mistaken, only that, by the looks of their eyes, they may do well to spend some hours in quiet reflection.

"Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth." (Obama, Dec. 10, 2009)

This was an excellent speech, the kind of art that begs repeat engagement. History will judge whether it was a milestone in the journey of a great man, the blunderings of a man ill-equipped to deal with the challenges presented him, or someone of less note. Personally, I saw a man, doing the best he can, holding himself to the highest standard he can manage, challenging himself constantly to grow, learning, gaining in stamina, strengthening the muscles of integrity and discipline as he attempts fully to utilize the resources with which he has been provided. I see a man of high caliber working diligently. What do you see?

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