“The in-after is replaced by the in-here”, warned card. Montini in 1956. The future Paul VI was a man of culture and a great connoisseur of modern culture which he appreciated much. His was not a call to solely religious or timeless values, but to remain not locked up in the immediate
"The attractiveness of natural things has become suggestive; nature, science, technology, economy and enjoyment powerfully engage our attention, our work, our hope. The fecundity of man's cleverness and hands that have drawn from the earth’s bosom has procured us goods, riches, culture, and pleasures, which seem to satisfy our every aspiration, and seem to correspond to our needs of research and possession. Here is life, says our conquest of the surrounding world; and here our desires are directed, linked and stopped; here we get our hope, here our love stops”, said Cardinal Montini.
Human progress should instead stimulate in us new steps towards the future, towards something higher, towards the in-after as a reality to come, instead of stopping us distractedly on the path of life, clinging to appraisals and values that today arise and tomorrow disappear in a becoming liquid culture.
Afghanistan is a warning. 15 years ago, we saw the United States winning over the newly established Taliban’s power. Today they are the losers and the Taliban win again. Covid19 questions us in such a way that conflicts arise even though our common health is at stake. This is not just about wars and epidemics.
The great human performances, the achievements of progress, even human rights and values are like a whirlwind as in a football championship, where one team wins today and another tomorrow. Those who today are on the front-scene as the protagonists of the best human progress and stand on the pedestal of gratitude, are going to fall shortly afterwards into the abyss, perhaps into abomination. The evaluation parameters in use, clinging to the in-here prevent seeing the here-after, beyond the fluctuation of merits and the surrounding events.
From glory to dust, was the saying of Cuomo, the New York State’s former governor, candidate to be the next US president thanks for his success in fighting against Covid until the lies in his statistics and his unclear deals with several female collaborators came to light. Not a few have had a bitter awakening to read how the so much-admired Obama sparked outrage with his 60th birthday party, and how his supportive media eclipsed his masquerade without masks under a crowded canopy.
Two articles in French say a lot about the most coveted and celebrated prize of recent decades inviting us to scale down recognition and consideration based on the in-here criteria. “These Nobel Peace Prize winners who make wars” (Ces prix Nobel de la Paix qui déclenchent des guerres) and “From winner of the Nobel Peace Prize to warlord” (De prix Nobel de la paix à chef de guerre).
"It is always risky to promote someone - said Asle Sveen, the Nobel Prize historian -. We are unable to predict what may happen in the future.” Actually, the Nobel Peace Prize has had unfortunate results, both in the nominees and in the awarded.
So, should the prize be assigned only to those who are already on the verge of death? Maybe or maybe, has it to be assigned with in-after criteria?
Among those named were, for example, Adolf Hitler and Stalin. Stalin was a nominee in 1945 and 1948 for his commitment to end the Second World War. Hitler in 1939, proposed by an anti-fascist member of the Swedish parliament, E.G.C. Brandt, even if only for a misunderstood satire.
Gandhi, a symbol of non-violence in the 20th century, was mentioned several times: in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948 shortly before being assassinated, without ever obtaining it.
What about the winners? They were neither always peacemakers nor corresponded to the honor they had received.
American President Theodore Roosevelt was awarded in 1906 for negotiating peace in the Russo-Japanese War and for resolving a dispute with Mexico. He was, at the time, criticized for his military interventions in the Philippines up to 1902 and in Panama in 1903. All that however took place before receiving the award.
Henry Kissinger, UN secretary of state under the Nixon presidency, and Lê Ðức Thọ (real name Phan Đình Khải), shared the 1973 Nobel Prize for their commitment to end the Asian peninsula’s war. Lê Ðức declined the award because the conflict, despite the 1973 peace agreements, went on until 1975.
Israeli leader Menachem Begin received the award along with Anwar el-Sadat in 1978 for the Camp David accords. However, he did continue denying any devolution of territories to Palestinians, nor a Palestinian state and nor any negotiations with the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). In 1982, he ordered the invasion of Lebanon.
Lech Walesa won the Nobel Prize in 1983, for his campaign in favor of the organization’s freedom in Poland, while Solidarnosc was still far from success and there were words accusing him of playing a double game for having worked with the Communist secret services.
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was awarded the Prize in 1990 as peacemaker for his role in ending the Cold War. Then in 1991, he sent tanks in the Baltic countries to stifle their separatist aspirations.
Aung San Suu Kyi received the Nobel in 1991 for her "non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights." In 2017, when she was Councilor of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President's Office, however, she did not lift a finger to defend the Rohingya minority.
Yassir Arafat was granted the Prize in 1994 for his peace efforts in the Middle East, thanks to the Oslo accords, sharing it with Rabin and Peres. Soon after came the violent second intifada against Israel.
Barack Obama won it in 2009, shortly after starting his first term as US President, for his commitment to do away with his predecessors' cycle of military interventions. He had not yet achieved any peace goals but at his arrival at Oslo to collect the award, he had already tripled the troops in Afghanistan. The US military troops were then to step up in Libya and Syria.
The European Union obtained it in 2012 just when it was imposing on Greece, its member state, the harsh financial conditions which, according to some economists, would destroy many lives.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos received the award in 2016 for his efforts in the peace process with the FARC, an agreement that the popular referendum blatantly rejected afterwards.
The Oslo Academy honored Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, in December 2019 for ending the bloody conflict with Eritrea. Less than a year later, he unleashes a "closed-door war" against the rebel province of Tigray.
Even "the saints" among the Nobel Peace Laureates make people talking. Mother Teresa, winner of the 1979 award, was accused in 1994 by the British medical journal The Lancet for failing to provide powerful painkillers to dying patients in her hospice of Calcutta.
The risk of disappointment increases with the choice of winners for the hope they represent or for a recent milestone, rather than for their entire career, adds the aforementioned Nobel Peace Prize historian Asle Sveen.
That is, the in-here criteria of our current liquid culture do not guarantee even the seriousness of the Nobel Peace Prize. How can they ensure justice and seriousness in other more important fields? Then, when will we have the will and decision to change the direction?