By Dr. E. Faye Williams
Albert Einstein is attributed with saying, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” I am uncertain as to what circumstances led him to this conclusion, but I am certain that as humanity progresses, we humans often “become too big for our britches.”
History provides a litany of advancements that offer functional results yet fall short of their intended purpose. Take the example of the Guillotine, named after French physician, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. For years, European executions were tortuous affairs. Realizing that executions were not designed as torture, but to end life, French thinkers set about to design a humane device of execution. Thus, in 1789, came the Guillotine, an instrument that rendered an instant, “humane” death to its victim. Because it ended life painlessly and instead of reducing death, its use was extended to less serious, petty crimes.
Distressed by US Civil War casualties, Dr. Richard J. Gatling created the Gatling Gun, one of the first rapid, sustained fire weapons. Dr. Gatling envisioned his weapon as reducing the size of armies and the number of deaths by combat and disease. It was to demonstrate the futility of war. Despite his intent, Gatling’s gun added lethal efficiency to the battlefield without demonstrating the desired futility of war.
Alfred Bernard Nobel, a native Swede, was a noted inventor. He is famous for his invention of dynamite and other explosives. Nobel’s invention was instrumental in facilitating construction and destroying obstacles or existing structures. He amassed an extreme fortune with his dynamite and the other 355 patents in electrochemistry, optics, biology, and physiology. Nobel directed that upon his death, 94% of his wealth should fund an endowment to honor achievements in the areas of physical science, chemistry, medical science, physiology, literary work, and service toward peace.
It appears, of the three examples of questionable technology, that of Alfred Nobel is the most noble. Yes, because of the creation of destructive power, we honor and finance, with The Nobel prizes, efforts to promote and enhance the quality of life for humanity.
For the casual observer of the Nobel awards, probably the most notable is the Nobel Peace Prize. Among US luminaries receiving this award are Jane Addams, Ralph Bunch, Gen George C. Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, and President Barack Obama.
The political revelations of the past week’s anti-trump book releases and tapes have overshadowed the Nobel Awards process. As you read this, how many of you can claim awareness of the nomination of donald j. trump for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Don’t feel bad. The news almost slipped past me too!
Considering this news, one wonders who would nominate trump? Rest assured it was no one from the U.S. The culprit is a far-right Norwegian lawmaker, Christian Tybring-Gjedde. Those who know Tybring-Gjedde are not really surprised. He is a staunch anti-immigration proponent who has, incidentally, to utter disparaging remarks about immigrants and people of color. He feels that trump deserves the Peace Prize for his contributions to Israel-Arab Emirates Agreement.
Despite his so-called efforts for peace, there is a simple ironic contradiction fundamental to his character. Motivated by jealousy to receive the same honor as his predecessor, he promotes peace abroad while fomenting hostility, violence, and cultural division among citizens of the U.S. The thousands of children can describe the psychological violence of being separated from their parents. Fear has been engendered in communities by racially inspired violence from law enforcement personnel AND vigilantes.
Trump has shown that a single act of purpose does not define character. His lies and true disregard for others disqualifies him from the office he holds, and receipt of an award well-defined by the character of its previous recipients.