The Nobel Committee today awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo who is currently serving an 11 year sentence for breaking Chinese law.
What rather strikes me about this award is that Mr. Xiaobo can’t really be said to be a man who has made a name for himself in the pursuit of peace. He is a pro-democracy activist! I suppose the assumption of the committee is that if a person is working for democracy then that is equivalent to working for peace. There is the idea that somehow there is a direct causal link between democracy and peace. But is that true? I don’t think we can really make that argument convincingly.
We also need to answer the question: What IS “Peace”? And how is it attained? Is peace simply the cessation of war and hostility? Is it the personal wholeness and health of “Shalom”? Or something in between or both? Or something else entirely?
According to the Nobel web site:
On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel’s will, one part was dedicated to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.
I am sure it must be difficult to be the Nobel Peace Prize committee who has to make the choice of who is to receive the prize, but I really don’t see how Mr. Xiaobo really fits the original intent of the prize (although I certainly hold the highest respect for what he is doing!) But of course the reality is that I cannot really think of ANYONE in our world who is actively working for peace between nations and the reduction of armies in order to bring peace. Perhaps leaders and governments might seek these things to reduce their budget deficits and simply because they are exhausted by war. But true men and women of peace? Where are they?
It makes me wonder: does anyone really CARE about peace, or is it that peace is so illusive, so difficult and so unpopular that no one is really willing to try to attain it? And where are the Christians? Are not Christians the ones who should be zealous for Peace -overcoming all odds for the sake of Christ and Peace in His name?
In 1948, the year that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, the Nobel Peace prize was NOT GIVEN OUT because, it was stated, “there was no suitable living candidate.” (This was their way of honoring Gandhi because prizes cannot be given out posthumously.)
I would here suggest that instead of grasping for straws each year (remember last year they gave the award to Obama on the “promise” of what he would do for world peace?), it would be better for them to just NOT award it. Put it out as a challenge: “This year there just is no one who is worthy of receiving this prize. Who will stand up and be counted for peace? Who will work for Peace?” (I suppose one downfall to my grand idea is that you don’t ever want to be seen as “working” for the Nobel Peace Prize!)
Ultimately, of course, for us as Christians, we understand true peace to begin with God, who through Jesus Christ IS our Peace! Jesus was born with the angel chorus “Peace on earth!” and with his death and resurrection he can truly say: “There IS Peace on earth!” With Jesus we can then begin to understand EARTHLY love and forgiveness – and the ceasing of animosity and war between brothers and sisters. Unfortunately we will ALWAYS be beset by sin in this world, but through Jesus Christ we are saved from ourselves! Praise God.
Last year I called for Jesus Christ to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in this blog. This is possible because Jesus actually IS alive today! I still call for it as by FAR a better choice than the bottom of the barrel individuals that the Nobel Committee is scraping up. If they don’t want to pick Jesus then they shouldn’t pick anyone until there is someone worthy of the prize.