The Nobel Peace prize has gone to some pretty silly recipients in the last few years: The whole EU in 2012, Barack Obama in 2009 (before he even tried to actually do anything), Jimmy Carter (one of America’s worst presidents ever) in 2002, and, of course Yasser Arafat the great terrorist in 1994.
It has gone to some great people too, I have to say. Like MSF in 1999, Kofi Annan in 2001, Muhammad Yunus (a truly amazing man) in 2006, and Liu Xiaobo in 2010.
If you think about the reason that Nobel actually established the peace prize, only Mohamed ElBaradei in recent memory actually has anything to do with nuclear nonproliferation. He’s not all that great of a guy but at least he worked on nuclear disarmament.
It seems pretty clear that the Peace Prize has nothing to do with its original intent. I don’t think that’s bad. But when the best you can do is to give the prize to Barack Obama before he’s even put in charge of anything, Arafat a terrorist turned imitation peace negotiator, and a big blob called the “European Union”, then I can’t say I think it has much value.
There is something that has the capacity to bring about a peaceful world. There is something that can turn religious zealots into rational actors on the world stage. There is something that can allow our future world leaders to make decisions based of reason not dogma, dignity not hatred, thinking not belief. That “something” is EDUCATION. There is something else too: the strength, pride, honor, and courage required to stand against evil and to “speak truth to power” regardless of the risk. One of the winners of this years Nobel Peace Price is virtually the perfect symbol of both attributes. That person, fully recovered and even more articulate than before she was shot in the head by a pure embodiment of hatred, is Malala Yousafzay.
Imagine a world where, even in the smallest rural Afghan villages, poor Muslim girls could learn critical thinking skills, science, history, and leadership skills! That would be a world where, perhaps, rationality has a chance. That is a world that Malala Yousafzay probably does not even envision. But’s it’s a world toward which her work can lead. So, I want to say how happy I am that Ms. Yousafzay has received recognition for her contributions to a world in which the Taliban is accepted for the evil they are and in which all young people have an opportunity to learn to use the most unique of human attributes: Reason.