I [am] mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: It merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's lifes work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naive in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
With this word:
Anyway, if American leftists aren't going to play the role of utopian dreamers anymore, I want to know who will? It's not that I disagree with Obama, but the realism here is darker than I'm accustomed to -- it's too practical. Who will have the audacity to finish on the memory of Gandhi and King without hedging their bets?
I know people who will love Obama's Nobel acceptance speech--most of them rhetoricians. But I believe what the quote at the top right of this page says (I stole it from Os Guiness): "Without truth, there is only manipulation." In paraphrasing George Bush, Obama said, "Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price." My--more peaceful, I think--solution to this apparently intractable reality is to consider writing fewer rules. Want nuclear disarmament? Then get rid of your nukes. Writing international legislation demanding that other countries disarm makes a mockery of justice and "morality." Otherwise our definitions are bankrupt, as when Emily Dickinson defines "Sin - a distinguished Precipice / Others must resist - ."
It's okay if America can no longer afford to be the shining city on a hill -- that responsibility will fall to some other country with a clearer vision of Justice. I just want to be on record, however quietly, noting the transformation.