Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Thoughts on the Nobel Peace Prize

I saw some e-mails recently on a mailing list that were proclaiming great joy over Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The general tone of the messages felt to me like anyone who didn't agree with the choice didn't understand, or didn't pay attention, or didn't read the committee's statement. In fact, even after I posted a message expressing my trouble with this attitude, another Friend posted a message suggesting that anyone who questions the prize isn't paying attention.

It is not my intention to argue one way or another, but to suggest that when we are unwilling to accept that people may actual have a rational basis to disagree with us, we are sowing seeds of war. Paul wrote that "We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." I think we should take this as a reminder that we are not fighting other people - that we should be careful not to personalize things, nor should we lump people into groups such that they lose their identity. When faced with a disagreement, we should sink down to the Seed and seek guidance from God. Perhaps some things are not worth arguing over, or perhaps there are lessons we need to learn. Perhaps we are even wrong.

I have also seen some Friends mention the AFSC / FSC Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, as if it makes us experts in the awarding of the prize. As I settled into worship yesterday, I felt led to read from First John, and I encountered this verse:

For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are of this world.

I took this as a reminder that we shouldn't be looking to other people for validation of what we do, but we should be attentive to God for validation. Sooner or later, the life of the Kingdom of Heaven threatens worldly comfort zones, and people (including us) may become defensive. Instead of being concerned with worldly prizes, we should be saying something similar to Paul when he said "I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

1 comment:

  1. It was wonderful to encounter this essay in my RSS feed this morning. The business about not seeking the world’s approval was of course something that I “knew already” — I’ve tried to live my own life on that principle, as best I could — but somehow I hadn’t thought of it in connection with the Nobel Prize uproar. It was precisely what I needed reminding of! Thank you, friend.