Oct 27, 2009
Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It was a decision that stirred up a great deal of controversy and indignation from some who protested that the prize was undeserved. Some dissenters said that the President has merely issued empty promises, but he has failed to make any concrete progress in achieving peace.
In the midst of this debate, I looked up a list of past Nobel Peace Prize winners to identify some of the other individuals and organizations who had been deemed worthy of this distinction. One individual who caught my eye was the 1979 recipeint of the Nobel Prize. She was a less-controversial candidate and she had left a clear stamp on the effort for peace in the world:. She is Mother Teresa of Calcutta. 30 years ago, the Nobel Committee honored the work of this humble nun who labored without complaint in the streets of Calcutta. What did Mother Teresa do to help work for peace? She simply loved.
Love. Charity. It is a simple concept and the greatest of the virtues, but how often we forget its importance! It is the instruction of the Lord at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn. 15:12) and it continues to be His instruction to us today. Love makes all the difference in the world.
Many of the Jewish people were expecting their Messiah to come in the form of an earthly military leader who would overthrow Roman rule. How surprising it must have been to discover that the Promised One had come as a humble carpenter! But the influence of that humble carpenter cannot be overstated. In fact, he changed the world! How? He loved - to the point of death. And humanity will never be the same.
Through His life and death, Christ has shown us that the answer to our problems lies in love. When we identify the challenges of the modern world, it is tempting to seek a solution in a charismatic political leader who will call for diplomatic negotiations, in an economic system that will distribute resources equally to all, or in advances in technology that will allow the human race to do things never before thought possible. But Christ reminds us that genuine love is the only solution that will bring lasting peace. If we want to work for peace, we must work for love.
This message is one that we all must remember. It is true for each one of us, not just the President. It is easy to point our fingers at Obama and complain that he does not merit such an award. That may be true, but before we cast a stone at our brother, let us examine our own lives. Yes, the United States President certainly has an obligation to take concrete steps to work for peace, but so do we. It is not necessary to be a prominent politician or renowned celebrity to spread peace. In fact, St. Francis of Assisi was better able to be a “channel of God’s peace” once he had renounced his worldly status and wealth. His greatest contribution to peace came once he had surrendered his prestigious position and committed himself to living in simplicity and humility. With this lifestyle, he was able to spread God’s peace in the world around him.
Take a look at your life: what are you doing to spread peace in your own way? Each one of us might do so differently, based on our individual surroundings, but our efforts are valuable nonetheless. As long as we can love one another, we can work for peace, which should be a goal we strive for every day.
Ultimately, debating whether or not a specific individual such as President Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t accomplish much. Instead, we ought to examine what it is that we ourselves are doing to work towards peace. We may not be politicians, but we can still promote peace in our world. The key to peace does not lie with the President. It lies in each of our hearts.