Obama addressed that controversy this morning from Oslo as he delivered his Nobel Address – and simultaneously hailed previous Nobel Laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer as a “giant of history”:
“Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize — Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela — my accomplishments are slight.”
Physician-humanitarian Schweitzer, an ardent advocate for nuclear abolition in the last decades of his life, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. In his Nobel Address, entitled “The Problem of Peace,” Schweitzer said, “Only when an ideal of peace is born in the minds of the peoples will the institutions set up to maintain this peace effectively fulfill the function expected of them.”
Supported by The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, hundreds of graduate students across the US are heeding Schweitzer’s words, each seeking, in his or her own way, to bring “an ideal of peace” to underserved communities.
As Obama said this morning,
…A just peace includes not only civil and political rights — it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.
In working to address the health disparities that continue to plague our world, Schweitzer Fellows here, in Africa, and beyond are also addressing hope disparities. In answering Schweitzer’s call to service (whether by empowering Hispanic migrant workers to take control of their own health, establishing Los Angeles’ first micro-health clinic for post-incarcerated youth, or empowering at-risk senior citizens with the tools to combat elder abuse), these 2,000 individuals are answering Schweitzer’s call to instill “an ideal of peace.”