Coleen Rowley’s post on HuffPost, yesterday, (link below) is the reason for this blogpost.
Almost exactly a year ago, someone suggested Coleen Rowley and I have a debate on issues relating to peace and President Obama. I agreed.
I actually saved the last of a chain of e-memos about this, dated March 30, 2011. Actually, I think the course towards having a debate started some time earlier in that same month, probably by someone else, in one of those endless online threads that go nowhere, but, no matter…. (The saved memo ended with some talk about “cognitive dissonance”.) A short while later one of the proponents for (and possible organizers of) the debate got angry at me and asked to be taken off my e-mail list (though I still get frequent e-mails from him – so is how it goes on the inter-net.)
Nothing ever happened because the supposed organizers of such a debate never got around to following through on the idea.
It was not the responsibility of either Coleen or myself to set this thing up – place, publicity, etc., etc., etc.
At any rate, I’m no longer interested in a “debate”.
At the same time, it appears Ms Rowley and I have engaged in our grand debate in a most unusual way, and it was at the same time direct and not direct at all.
It happened at the just completed Nobel Peace Prize Forum and all of the “documentation” is already public record.
Last Saturday, March 3, we apparently were in the same hall at the same time when former S. African President F. W. deKlerk gave his Laureate address to a packed house. That address is archived on-line at the Forum website, and anyone can watch it at anytime, in its entirety. Here is the entree point. The talk was the one given on Saturday morning March 3, 2012. It was viewable live around the world.
Later the same day, at 12:30-1:15 in the Augsburg College Chapel, Coleen and I happened to sit within a few feet of each other, on either side of the main aisle, as Dr. Geir Lundestad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute – the agency that chooses the Nobel Laureate each year – described the sometimes controversial history of the Nobel Peace Prize. This was one of many workshops, and was not filmed, to my knowledge, though I noticed Coleen was capturing some or all of it on her phone camera.
(Full disclosure: I’ve met Dr. Lundestad in previous years, and heard him speak; and I’ve known Coleen Rowley for five years or more. I know them both more through their work, than as personal friends.)
At the end of the same day, Saturday, March 3, at the closing of the Forum, I and hundreds of others heard Naomi Tutu, daughter of Desmond Tutu, give the Call to Action. It was a powerful address, and it is the last presentation on-line. I don’t know if Coleen was there or not. In her remarks, I recall Ms Tutu mentioning two panels that she had been part of earlier in the day, each on the same topic with the same participants. She observed that she and the other panel members spoke different thoughts from one panel to the next, and while not going into any specifics, Ms Tutu found that quite interesting. Coleen went to the first workshop; I had considered going to the second, but chose another option instead. Had I participated in the second workshop, I might have heard something different from the panelists than what Coleen heard an hour or two earlier.
On the other hand, I had seen and heard deKlerk twice on the previous day, once in the presence of hundreds of school children at the Festival portion, and at a reception in the evening. I gather that Coleen was at neither.
So, our “debate”?
Coleen has a much larger “platform” than I, and appeared on it yesterday, in a 1725 word Huffington Post commentary, accessible here.
This is the closest Coleen and I will come to debating this or any issue. But it does represent a start.
Maybe one or two or three of you will take the bait and start your own conversations with people you don’t normally talk with….
They’re surely necessary.
POSTNOTE: As I was writing the above, I began to think back over my entire work career when Committees were a not-always-desirable feature of daily life. You name it, there was a Committee about it. And the Nobel Peace Prize is selected by a Committee.
We all know the jokes about the results of committee work, but as I know from experience, committees are necessary, most always do their best, and in the end present their best possible results to the rest. Sometimes there is near-unanimity in accepting the results; most always somebody, sometime most everybody NOT on the committee, will be critical of something or other, maybe everything, that the committee has tried to do.
Committee results are overturned, but for good reason there is great hesitation in doing so. It is difficult enough to form a good committee.
Here we have a Nobel Peace Prize Committee which for over 100 years and through literally generations of different members has tried to do its best to select someone who in its judgement best represents the Will (will) of the founder of the Prize, Alfred Nobel.
And we have people who for their own reasons are rushing to judgement to criticize the results of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee as if it is some sinister person with dark motives.
I don’t wonder why the Peace Prize Committee keeps its deliberations secret for many years.