Each year, Nobel Prizes are awarded for outstanding achievement in five original areas – Peace, Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature – and a sixth area of Economics (the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science was added in 1968). The Nobel Prizes were established in the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist and inventor. He was involved, with his family, in the manufacture of explosives. He also invented dynamite. A man who believed in peace, he was concerned about the potential destructive uses of the explosives he had invented. So, he established a fund to provide the annual awards.
Under the terms
of Nobel's will, the Peace Prize is judged by a committee of the Norwegian parliament. Each recipient is presented with a gold medal and a monetary award (close to $1 million). The awards were first given in 1901. They are not given every year, and from 1940 to 1942 no awards were made.
Sometimes winners are people who work behind the scenes, sometimes they are people who are very well known. For example, former US President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. The prize was awarded for Carter's "decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development." During his presidency (1977-1981), Carter's mediation was a vital contribution to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. Through his Carter Center (visit www.cartercenter.org), which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2002, Carter has since his presidency undertaken very extensive and persevering conflict resolution on several continents. The Nobel Committee concluded its announcement of the award by stating, "In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development."
Why not give your own award for peace? A Peace Award is a great way to praise and recognize any age, especially children and teens, for their efforts to act in peaceful ways and build a cooperative, caring, safe community. Families might choose a different family member each month. Schools might choose a new recipient every week. You can even give out Peace Awards as holiday gifts.
Who's in the running to receive the award? A teacher or parent who takes a stand against bullying. A grandparent who takes the time to listen to a troubled teen. Depending on the age of children, someone who has remembered to consistently say "please" and "thank you," who didn't lose control and instead remembered to count to ten, who shared a toy or book, or who helped another person with a problem or mediated a dispute.
Recipients can be chosen in a number of ways. You can give out a Peace Award anytime you see worthy behavior. Or give out the award every holiday season. A parent or teacher can choose an individual. Everyone in a group can vote. Or, everyone can drop nominations into a box when they see someone else do something that contributes to a spirit of peace, and then a winner can be pulled from the box.
Give and celebrate the gift of peace. We can start building a legacy of peace in the world by building peace within ourselves and in our own families and communities.