During the night I read and thought about President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Oslo. Rarely has a Nobel Peace Prize recipient spoken so much and so candidly about war.
I know a lot is lost in just reading a transcript. On the other hand, it gives the opportunity to pause and to reread and ponder what is being said.
On DemWit and in comments on others’ blogs, I have identified myself as a “realist” rather than an “idealist,” and I was intrigued that Obama brought up this distinction.
In fact, in my own insignicant way, I’ve argued some of the same points the president made throughout his speech. He, of course, did so more eloquently and convincingly.
Here are two quotes which struck me as most powerful in conveying his message:
“To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism - it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”
“But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But, I also know this: the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice.”
Only the insane want war. Only the quixotic soul believes we can wipe it from the Earth.
As Obama turned his thoughts toward John F. Kennedy’s “gradual evolution” toward peace, he focused on nuclear nonproliferation, human rights, and economic security and opportunity.
How brave it was of Obama to end his speech with "love," for it is the most powerful weapon against war we human beings have.
Few of us do not remember learning the Golden Rule as children: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I pictured Obama as a father, using these words in addressing his audience in the same spirit as he has used them with his two little girls.
If every human being adhered to this simple rule, the world, if not a perfect place, would be a better place.
There is another word, as close to our hearts as “love,” which, in my opinion, shares its importance in working toward peace.
Let me share something from a book I read recently, “Too Far from Home” by Chris Jones.
When the space shuttle Columbia disintergrated in 2003, few of us realized three men – two Americans and a Russian - aboard the space station lost their ride home. With questions about when the shuttle would fly again, these men might have been confined in station beyond their human capacities.
As the trio’s time on the space station drew to a close, it was decided their only means of getting home was the untested Russian Soyuz spacecraft permanently docked there.
Their flight home was as perilous and their safe return as unsure as that of Apollo 13, yet the media – and the world – paid little attention to their plight, because the U.S. would within a month invade Iraq.
The spacecraft crash landed on its side on a Russian steppe 600 miles from its landing target with its positioning equipment damaged.
None of the three had really wanted to leave the peaceful, unharried atmosphere of “Station.”
As the Soyuz lay on its side, the American on the bottom looked out a tiny window and saw a single blade of green grass against the brown earth. “It’s beautiful, It’s beautiful.” he kept repeating.
In that single blade of grass he saw “home,” and home was not that Russian steppe; home was not America; home was Earth.
If only all nations could find unity in diversity and all peoples collectively feel the sense of home experienced by that American astronaut, peaceful solutions would abound.
If only …