“Happy Are the Peaceable”
IN 1901 the Nobel Prize for Peace, presented for the first time, was shared by Jean-Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, and economist Frédéric Passy. Since then it has been awarded 69 times, 55 times to 71 different individuals, either singly or jointly, and 14 times to 16 groups or organizations. Some groups have won it more than once, such as the International Red Cross Committee (1917, 1944, and 1963) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1954 and 1981). Evidently for lack of a worthy recipient, the Nobel prize committee declined to make an award 19 times.
As one would imagine, most of the prizewinners have been statesmen, diplomats, or persons otherwise connected with politics. But journalists, jurists, sociologists, economists, and social reformers have also received it. Even scientists, among them Linus Pauling in 1962 and Andrey Sakharov in 1975, have been so honored, as have also labor leaders, notably Lech Wałesa in 1983. And in 1970 the prize was given to agricultural expert Norman E. Borlaug.
The first religious personage to be awarded the prize was Swedish Lutheran archbishop Nathan Söderblom, chosen in 1930. In 1946 Methodist layman and evangelist John R. Mott shared the prize, followed in 1952 by theologian and philosopher Albert Schweitzer and in 1958 by Belgian cleric Dominique Georges Pire. In 1964 the choice was civil rights leader and Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr.
But in recent years, religion has been playing a more prominent role in the world’s pursuit of peace. In keeping with this trend, three of the last nine individuals to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace have been religious figures: Catholic nun Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1979, Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa in 1984, and last year Tibet’s exiled Buddhist “god-king,” the Dalai Lama.
It is true that Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9, King James Version) But will religious efforts—whether Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, or otherwise—to serve as peacemakers in this world be crowned with success?
The Bible tells us that this present wicked world alienated from God will never experience lasting peace, a fact that religious involvement in the world’s charitable, social, and political affairs cannot change. By replacing present-day governments with his Kingdom under Christ Jesus, the “Prince of Peace,” the Creator himself will shortly bless believing mankind with peace.—Isaiah 9:6, 7; 57:21; Psalm 46:9; Daniel 2:44.
Peaceable persons who recognize this truth and who pattern their lives accordingly will be happy indeed. As the New World Translation renders Jesus’ words: “Happy are the peaceable.”