When I first heard of President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize I was tremendously pleased. I went back in my head to that shining night in Chicago when that city led the whole world in a celebration of a new President and a new day. I remember the wild, exuberance of black folk and young people an that little group of Obama's relatives in Kenya. For the first time in our history America had done something it had never done before: we elected an African-American as our President. The word that flowed through so many quarters was hope. Above everything else: hope.
He offered change we could believe in. And he laid on his desk a multitude of issues that could not wait. Economy. War. Health Care. Economy. Torture. War. Gay Rights. Economy. War. No small matters. These were monumental matters that demanded leadership and challenge.
I have been surprised by the rage and hatred directed toward this man. I understand that death threats on the President's life have risen 400% from those against President Bush. I do not know where we are going--but I trust the man at the helm of this old ship.
I am hoping what we have with the economy so far will help us all. I am hoping that whatever decisions we make about Afghanistan will be the right ones. Who really knows? I hope our representatives can do something significant for all our citizenry when it come to health care--and yet I know that the forces against such an effort are rich and powerful. So much of the right-wing media fans the flames of hatred and fear day after day.
This man for whom so many of us voted has tried to deal with all of these colossal issues. He has touched problems that others have ignored or pigeon-holed. His election has brought a sea change in Washington. He may fail at many of the dreams he has. But his dreams have been big and have encompassed us all.
Is it really too early for this prize of all prizes? It is never too early for hope, for courage and for attempting to deal with powerful issues that concern the whole world. Once again those outside our borders are beginning to think well of America.
Steve Clemons in his popular political blog, Washington Note has written a wonderful piece on why he feels President Obama deserves this great honor. On the other side of this debate is Thomas Friedman, a columnist whom I read and trust. I disagree with his position to the President receiving this honor.
I remember how the news was received when Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored. His hometown, Atlanta had a difficult time finding a place that would celebrate this great man's achievement and its far-reaching ramifications. Not so today--Atlanta is proud of their native son. Strange what time alone will do.
Hopefully our leader will rise to the occasion of this honor when it comes to war and health care and economic concerns and a multitude of other challenges. This is my hope and this is my prayer.