Two messages of hope: from and to America

Some of us in the United States would like to think that the Norwegian Nobel Committee did not confer the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to Barack Hussein Obama, our 44th president, as a prize for a promise yet unfulfilled but, rather, as a reward for a deed in the form of change; change which has already occurred, one brought about by and through Obama’s words. At least that’s our hope… and that this award is in no way prepaid recompense for other anticipated future deeds.

Unfortunately, not just for Americans but every citizen of this planet, the United States is a nation divided, just as divided as the Sunni and Shia are in Iraq – the Kurds probably prefer to secede – and any journalist or political commentator making use of the words “some, many or most,” when referring to our population, must be careful in their use. The glue that held together a commonality of purpose for Americans before, one arising from a uniquely superior standard of living over most of the world, has now lost all its adhesive characteristics even if the government keeps clinging to it by creating phony wealth, worthless dollars and IOU’s backed by trust in a nation whose economic better days are being left behind vis-à-vis other nations whose economies are coming of age.

But, divided or not, Americans elected Barack Obama as their president, and by so doing, and this charismatic leader’s cry for change, in both domestic and foreign policy, a signal was sent to the rest of the world: a message of hope, a call for renewed efforts for peace. And the world saw the walls of an American Jericho, built by an insane and arrogant Bush, collapse at the sound of the trumpets of change blown by this American Joshua’s army. Not just the pre-election call for change, but change that Obama has called for during the nine months of his presidency. From his early trip to Cairo and his rapprochement with the Muslim world, to his commitment for dialogue with any and all nations – including North Korea and Iran – and an extended hand to Russia by way of desisting from activating a missile shield close to her borders, this American president has demonstrated a strong desire for peace, although strong forces and voices within the United States will fight him all the way when it comes to peace in the Holy Land, or finding a solution in Afghanistan where America’s military wouldn’t have the upper hand.

Be that as it may, and whether the world would like to see “deeds of peace” come from Obama, the message it has sent back to America via the Nobel Prize should be not only welcome by its recipient but the rest of Americans as well. The world is happy to see the US act as a responsible nation, not unilaterally as its bully, in matters affecting both peace and its very survival through climate change.

True, Obama may have only changed the peace atmospherics but, given his position as president of today’s only superpower, what more can anyone ask of him?

The same Friday that Obama was being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, eight sun hours away in the West Coast of the United States, I was confronting during my attendance of weekly management meetings the reality of such an honor with another reality: how much Obama is hated by many in the US business community, and a very strong contingent of unchristian Christians who have joined forces with Corporate America to form a new political force which has taken over the Republican Party and asphyxiated any decency which existed in the once proud, conservative GOP.

Today, a day later, as if to put the final accent on the issue of a divided nation, I woke up to find an email from Michael Steele, Republican National Committee Chairman, with a satirical (cynical would be more correct) subject: Nobel Peace Prize for Awesomeness. In this email, this peddler of his party’s hate, without mincing words, led the readers to conclude “how meaningless a once honorable and respected award has become” by virtue of having his unworthy compatriot, Barack Obama, become its recipient; adding in a postscript to the letter… “Trendy slogans and international esteem don’t create new jobs for Americans, reduce the national debt, or keep our country safer in a dangerous world.” Nothing has changed in how GOP-America views the world: as both irrelevant and dangerous… not an iota different from the way George W. Bush did.

As a consolation, such garbage of a message appropriately landed between two other spam missives, one advertising fake pharmaceuticals masked as Viagra and Cialis, the other peddling university diplomas for a small fee. Chairman Steele could not have been in better or more apropos company.

Unfortunately for the president of this United States, the unsavory reality is that true changes in foreign policy may never be allowed to occur by those holding the ultimate power; not unless he is able to shift support from the “other America” to his, something not likely to happen unless some miracle takes place, and the economy, even if only temporarily, shows improvement… and he is permitted to take credit for it.

Meantime, our politically-pugilist leader keeps taking punches from the right and from the left… and even progressives like me accuse him of being a centrist caving in to the wishes of the Right, being neither a forceful pursuer of peace abroad or of social justice at home.

At the end, hope springs eternal, even if only deeds by Obama can ultimately become sempiternal.