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The Power of Symbols

I have no idea what to make of President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Honestly, when I first saw it, I was on a spoof web-site and thought it was a joke.

I can come up with no way to respect the committee selection; I cannot believe they respect President Obama as a human being with a true personhood.

I can only believe they believe he is more powerful than a human can be, which they indicated by their comments on his, what was the word, style? Tone? I think it was tone.

I can only believe, as a corollary, that they have an exagerrated sense of their own power to influence events through their symbolic gesture.

Invent a weapon; give a peace prize.

Sell computers; celebrate the environment.

Create a public school system; create the most uneducated AND ill-equipped generation in American history.

Sign peace treaties; provoke wars.

There is something deeply wrong with the political psychology of the last 150 or so years.

Could it be rooted in something so puerile as an overweening confidence in the symbolic gesture?

As a lover of symbols (such as, especially words) this abuse troubles me deeply. It bodes evil, because it is very easy to condemn and persecute people for not believing in your symbols.

For example, I love peace and am very grateful to those who preserve it for me. But I don’t count the Nobel Peace Prize givers among them. Woodrow Wilson won this prize for the treaty of Versailles! Are you kidding me?

Sometimes they choose well. Sometimes poorly. They recognize people who share their values and beliefs by giving them a symbolic gesture. But how often do they review the effects of the choices they reward?

To drag out one more point: I don’t know enough about the Nobel committee and its specific members and its history. But is this, perhaps, the crossing of a new line? Have they ever rewarded so much tone and so little substance in the past, so early in a political career?

Is it possible to conclude, then, that this is not an attempt to influence the future more directly and more personally than ever?

Do you really have to be a conservative to wonder about the motivation behind this? Judging by the media shock, it would seem not.

Whither the Nobel Prize?

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