Writing off the cuff here, so it may not be as eloquent as I hoped. But, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to be able to write and reflect upon the announcement today that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As most readers can imagine, I am a huge fan of President Obama. Fan. Admirer. Follower. Supporter. You name it, I'm there. I've written before that I never really cared too much about politics prior to this election and the events leading up to it. President Obama (then, Candidate Obama) and the movement made me care. For the first time in my life. I saw a change. And, yes, it was and is a change I can believe in.
I'll never forget the image, just after Mr. Obama was named the Democratic candidate, of a young boy who was dressed up for Halloween, with a name tag that said, "President." His little name tag didn't say "President Obama", in homage of imitation. It didn't say "Future President" or "I wanna be President", it simply read "President." Years ago, that little boy would have gathered responses like "Oh, how cute" or "Dream big, little guy." I certainly would have thought those. But, now, I see that photo and say, "Yes, Mr. President." I have no doubt that doors have been opened for this little boy. I don't just mean in opportunity, I mean in his renewed self esteem; in his promise that one day he, too, can be President; and in the security that he will be able to stand on the shoulders of those who came before him.
When I first heard that President Obama was reaching out to the Muslim world to make peace, I thought, truly, there was no one else who could have done this in a genuine manner. For, because of his family, his heritage, and his history, outreach was coming from a place of love and respect. In the beginning of his campaign and through the election, President Obama seemed to be going on a World Tour, visiting many countries where people came out to offer support and encouragement. Have we seen that in many other leaders these days?
President Obama's speeches, his inspiration, his call to action for his fellow Americans, and in him, the promise of a brighter tomorrow, brings peace. Not in the traditional sense of solving or ending a political war, but rather a peace to people.
I agree with the critics who have said, "He hasn't done enough to earn the Nobel Peace Prize." And, as much as it pains me to say this, in a traditional sense, it is true. But, for me, President Obama represents all that is not traditional. Our country, its people, its policies, and its programs have existed in ways that have not worked. And, I have respect for someone who believes that doing the same thing, getting nowhere, and still doing the same thing expecting different results is getting old. it's refreshing to hear a President who speaks honestly. Who intelligently speaks and responds from a place of care.
In the past few months, there have been times where I reacted with "Dang, he shouldn't have said that!" From Cambridge police to Kanye West, President Obama has spoken candidly. People reacted with "that's not very Presidential!", yet, my reaction is "how refreshing!"
Nobel Peace Prize? I know. Given those who have received it in the past, I'm not sure I would have put President Obama in the same category. I also wonder if the global community sees his impact differently than we might see it. Does the larger world believe that "If Americans can vote for a Black president, they must be getting somewhere?" Do they place great emphasis on his outreach to the larger global world where previous presidents looked to dominate other countries? Or, did they choose him because he has the greatest global recognition right now?
Simply sitting and writing just hours after the announcement, I'm still attempting to digest it all. I feel conflicted -- so happy and proud for President Obama, and yet I find myself questioning whether it was awarded too early. I know there will be great things that come out of President Obama's impact. Peace and hope. That's what I know he has brought to my family.