Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize. How Should We Respond?

For those who seem so distraught over the fact that Barack Obama is now a Nobel Laureate I have an history lesson.

When, on December 10, 1964, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, he began his speech with the following words:

I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

I wasn’t around at the time, but I rather suspect Dr. King was addressing his American critics who must certainly have suggested that he really hadn’t yet achieved anything worthy of a Peace Prize. Continue reading

In Memory of a Genocide

This column was the featured commentary on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on October 15, 2007.

Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

When Pearl Aslanian was five, ethnically Turkish Ottoman soldiers entered her village. She watched as they killed her father, and, as the family escaped on foot to Amman, Jordan, she helped her mother bury a younger brother on the banks of the Tigris River.

In March of 2006 I officiated at the Pearl’s funeral and, at the risk of becoming persona non grata in Turkey, I consider it a great honor to have presided at the graveside of someone who was among the last humans able to remember the Turkish genocide of Armenians during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire.
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