Friday, October 9, 2009

In Stages

Doesn't everything happen in stages?

(Really no relevance to this photo but it's such a good one).

"In a surprise, Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize."

The reaction from most, even his biggest supporters, appears to be stunned. Clearly, from anyone who has followed even lightly the news will wonder on what the committee based this decision.

Obviously, the conservative reaction concerns the rest of the world's idolization of Obama. He's popular, he's practically a celebrity in countries around the world. They'll point to various speeches he's given abroad wherein he's effectively "apologized" for the U.S. So, the conservative (anti-Obama) take will amount this award being the result of his deference to others, to put it mildly. A right-winger might just say, "Obama's a pussy."

At the very least, people (both left middle and right) will wonder what accomplishments of Obama warranted the Nobel Peace Prize. The selection committee is, I believe, notoriously left (liberal) so again some criticism will point toward a giant liberal hug.

A couple of problems with this conservative spin. First of all, there is, I think almost all would agree, a great deal of credibility associated with the Nobel Peace Prize selection/election process. Intelligence, culture and good-will (ethics) exude from that entire enterprise. As a result, we ought to consider their choice in light of this credibility. Does a world-wide liberal conspiracy out-weigh that committee's role in maintaining a history of recognizing human achievement? I really doubt it. But don't be surprised if you hear Glen Beck or one of his puppies argue otherwise.

The second problem with the knee-jerk "what in the hell has Obama done to deserve this" reaction is that such points-of-view still see America as a country operating independently in a world of lesser foes. The patriotism associated with the Republican banner is both bullshit and one of that party's inherent flaws. It's bullshit because the more liberal thinker is just as patriotic, just as proud of his/her American citizenship, as the right-wing clown. Such a tactic as arousing the social conservatism of, say, the southern states of this country amounts to raising a pit bull to kill on command: it's just as unfair to the dog as it is to the one the dog will attack. One saw this line of bullshit with McCain's VP pick. Her down-home Americana bullshit got laughed right off the stage. But the flaw is even more serious. Our independence was established in and around 1776. But centuries later, the world is different. To use the ideas of one Benjamin Barber, we are interdependent now. Our failure to realize that amounts to our failure to be successful on so many fronts (politically, economically, environmentally, educationally, socially, medically, etc.). We have to get along with the rest of the world. Sure we are still a leader, still pound-for-pound the strongest country (leave it at that), but that only means we have to lead in working interdependently with others. To be the leader, we have to act like the leader.

And that's, I believe, where the Nobel selection committee got its read on Obama. They believe in Obama. Let's certainly not take away that he has initiated talks with certain countries and made priorities of certain issues that amount to establishing more peace and security, but many will wonder what exactly has he done?

Everything happens in stages. At this most early stage of his presidency, the world's authority on human achievement has declared "good things are to come from this man." I think even Obama woke-up this morning and said, "Wow."

And the training happens in stages. . .

Wed. 40 minutes on the trainer. Light. Felt pretty good.

Thurs. 5 miles on a hilly trail. Walk/run repeat. This was more or less the prescription of Dr. Tim. I coughed most of the 5 miles, pretty annoying. Really tight in the chest.

Friday. 8 miles. But tired w/elevated HR. I'm coming. . .

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