Nobel Peace Prize Forum an antidote to cynicism

Author: 
John Rash
Source: 
The Star Tribune

The worldwide political environment is increasingly more inward-looking than internationalist, more angry than empathetic. So the theme of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Forum — “globalizing compassion” — is a welcome counternarrative.

The forum, the only event the Norwegian Nobel Institute holds outside of Norway, runs from Monday through Wednesday at the Radisson Blu Mall of America. Among many notable speakers will be honored laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who along with Malala Yousafzai was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

In its citation, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said of the Indian human-rights champion: “Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.”

The laureate is not resting. He has used his status to advance the causes he believes in, but he acknowledges the global component of compassion.

“Now we have reached a situation where no problem can be solved in isolation, in compartments or by one country,” he told an editorial writer in advance of the forum. “It may be global warming, may be the poverty issue or global recession or unemployment or global terrorism; the problems and solutions are so interconnected, we cannot solve them individually.”

Satyarthi cited bracing statistics to explain the global extent of a world where “children have not been prioritized in the political, financial, and social policies and discourses.” About 168 million are involved in child labor, and 124 million are denied education. And the violence convulsing much of the world means that up to half a billion are living in conflict areas.

In many cases, this deterioration is leading to a counterproductive political response.

“It is seen in many countries: Here we see this presidential election, but also in Europe and other places, some of the politicians are playing on the fear of the people and trying to build a political gain out of it,” Satyarthi said. He added: “That’s why it’s very important that people who believe in the global citizenship and the institutions who are working in this regards have to raise their voices and find ways to work together.”

There isn’t a better place to start than at the forum. And, by extension, in Minnesota.

“We live in a community that is rooted in thinking about issues related to peace-building and peacemaking,” Nobel Peace Prize Forum Executive Director Gina Torry told an editorial writer.

Those rooted in these admirable endeavors should attend the forum and heed Satyarthi’s call to be heard and work cohesively. Blunting the coarsening politics that threatens to exacerbate international challenges should start at home, and then the compassion should be extended globally.