As I've thought about this over the day, listening to different takes on the issue, what it comes down to for me is something a colleague said, which reminded me that Obama is creating a paradigm shift in America and in the world, and that this is putting us on a path towards peace. No, peace isn't achieved yet; that's not the point.
Part of what this paradigm shift is about is getting the American people to wake up to our role in creating a world of peace--individually. Here's some of Obama's words from his acceptance speech:
I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.and:
this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women and all Americans want to buildand:
these challenges can be met, so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.and:
This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration; it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world.This isn't merely rhetoric. It's a major paradigm shift. And it's one I struggled against in deciding to ultimately vote for Obama. I thought he was pushing responsibility away and avoiding making promises with his language about how it takes all of us. Over time, however, I came to see that he was really creating a new vision about how we do things in this country, one that just might pull us back to some of the values that were great about America, such as civic engagement, and at the same time pull us into a future which is embracing new values, such as environmental responsibility, global citizenship, and diversity. I began to see that in talking about how we would do this together he wasn't advocating responsibility, he was claiming leadership, and I had to let myself be led.
Obama accepted the award as a call to action. My greatest hope is that we can all accept the award, as a country, and try to live up to its call.