Barack and Michelle Obama woke up Friday morning to some very humbling news. The U.S. President, after only seven months in office, managed to win the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, an honor that has been bestowed on the best peacekeepers and transformative figures of that year.
I will be honest. Upon first hearing this news, like everyone else, I was surprised; perhaps even shocked. As supportive as I am of the president, how could someone deserve this award after only serving seven months in office? Never mind that it’s actually much worse than that — Obama was supposedly nominated for the award after serving only ten days in office. As grand as his ideas and aspirations might be, Obama still largely doesn’t have a single monumental accomplishment on his record.
With that in mind, I had to search for the official reasoning behind this award. Oslo apparently chose Obama as the winner for his “efforts to strengthen international diplomacy” and for creating “a new international climate in politics.”
That was the initial reasoning that got the extremely unlikely coalition of the Republican Party, Hamas, Taliban and Iran’s Foreign Ministry joining in unison to denounce this award.
That’s when it hit me. That’s when I figured out why exactly Obama not only won the award, but also rightfully deserved it.
When South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma heard of the award, he wholeheartedly agreed and immediately congratulated Obama on the award saying that his ongoing foreign policy reflects the true definition of the Zulu philosophical concept of Ubuntu.
Whether you agree with his ideas and agenda or not, one has to admit that Obama was a truly transformative figure who successfully managed to run a revolutionary campaign. The “revolution” behind this campaign had nothing to do with the successful election of the first African American — instead, it describes the process of that election and namely who was involved.
Obama managed to get an astounding number of people to rise up and participate, not only here but abroad as well. His campaign and messages advocating international peace and cooperation worked majestically. Starting with his campaign, people from across the globe stood up and for once just celebrated our common bond and connection as humans. They celebrated our common humanity and that is what Ubuntu is all about.
For once, we have stopped our disruptive “going at it alone” method to foreign policy and realized that there’s a world outside our borders, opening ourselves up to new partners for peace.
Now, is the introduction of that ever so important international bond and community deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize? Of course. The prize’s chief aim is to award the honor to whoever “has done the best work for fraternity between nations.” And if Obama’s open messages don’t aim for that, I truly don’t know what does. The award has been well deserved, Mr. President.
Needless to say, there’s still work to do. A lot of work. But we should take a quick moment and appreciate this award for what it is, a gentle appreciative nod from the international community congratulating us on being on the right path.
We should be proud of our country and our President, but must now quickly forget the award and get back to work.