From the very first moment of his presidency, President Obama has been trying to create a more cooperative climate which can help reverse the present trend. He has already “lowered the temperature in the world”, in the words of former Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu.
—Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Oslo, 10 December 2009
So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another — that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.
So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths — that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.” A gradual evolution of human institutions.
US President Barack Obama, Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Oslo, 10 December 2009
Listen to the full speech via the audio player above or read the full text of his speech here.
Musical performers included Esperanza Spalding
Will Smith, Jada Pinkett, Wyclef Jean and Donna Summer were in attendance.