The Peace Perspective

Posted: October 10, 2009 in Peace

We’ve talked about “perspective taking” in Negotiation Theory this semester, the importance of seeing things through the eyes of your counterparty. To me, this is a requirement for The Golden Rule, a concept most everyone in the world finds valuable. And I think a little Perspective Taking would be a healthy exercise in regard to the Nobel Peace Prize announcement yesterday.

It’s no big surprise that many of my conservative friends are laughing it off as ridiculous – another chance to ridicule a president they cannot stand. But many of my liberal friends are confused by it, too – most eloquently expressed on my longstanding group blog HERE.

I’m trying to employ a little Perspective Taking.

President Jimmy Carter was surprised at his award in 2002, announced just hours after President George W. Bush received the go-ahead to invade Iraq. Now, President Obama is surprised to receive his award in 2009. The coincidence with these awards that sandwich the Bush II administration is obviously not so coincidental. And yet, I wonder if characterizing them as simply a loud criticism of President Bush is a bit too simple.

I struggle to “take the perspective” of the world community. I am sure we must be seen as the richest, most athletic, best-looking, most popular, most powerful kid in school. Although I realize this is a stretch, I do wonder if the fact that President Obama has talked about nuclear disarmament, has talked respectfully toward the Muslim world, and has just in general “talked” to other nations is seen as an extraordinary act of peace – even though from my (our?) perspective a two-war president hasn’t done much worth recognizing on the peace front. It is just words, but then again, words are powerful.

Let me try to simplify what my Perspective Taking effort has made me wonder – if the most popular, powerful, wealthy kid in school changes his tune and begins treating everyone with respect, maybe to the little kids it is very noteworthy.

  1. urbino says:

    Isn’t that still much more about Bush than about Obama, though? Isn’t a huge sense of relief, great as it is, more about what was happening before than about what’s happening how? It’s a backward-looking emotion.

  2. alsturgeon says:

    You’re right. It only makes sense relative to the past administration.

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