I have won a few prizes in my life. Back when I was thirteen I was a pretty good baseball pitcher. In fact, I threw so hard most of the batters I faced were scared, flinching and swatting blindly at the ball to protect themselves from possibly being hit. That year I was named both the league Cy Young award winner, as well as its MVP. I figured I would be a professional baseball player when I was older. I was even named to a national All-Star team, heading over to the fields in Cooperstown, New York to be among the best young players in the nation. I did not get a chance to play in the game. I did not belong there. I was, by far, the worst player on either team.
This essay is not about me, however. This example is used to stress the larger point I wish to make. Prizes go to your head, no matter who or what you are. I just saw a headline while waiting in a supermarket line from one of those slimy tabloids jabbed into a rack along the impulse buy shelves. On the cover was Malala Yousafzai, the young woman who won a Nobel Peace Prize a few years ago for leading a crusade in Pakistan, and elsewhere in the world, to help girls get educations after the Taliban shot her in the face for daring to protest. She survived and worked harder than nearly every person on the planet to help girls all over the world. On the cover of the tabloid we see a picture of Malala at what appears to be a wedding, holding a bottle of wine with a big smile on her face. In another photo she is drinking from a glass. The headline spoke about her “Going Wild,” as though she were some topless co-ed on spring break.
Sometimes prize winners are resented–Barrack Obama, for example. Of course he did not deserve to win a Nobel Peace Prize. But Obama’s prize, I think, had less to do with him, and much more to do with the world’s then perception about just how much the United States had changed. But you can’t give the honor to every person in the nation (or at least all of those who voted for him, not calling him a Kenyan, and numerous other claims that he was either an ‘outsider,’ or downright ineligible.) No, there was a moment when it appeared that America had finally clawed its way past our brutal history of racism. This is why he won the prize, as a figurehead. Certainly he was and is no Martin Luther King, Jr., nor Nelson Mandela. He was just some Chicago politician done good.
And yet now Donald Trump, insanely jealous of anyone else’s accomplishments, insists that he somehow deserves the Peace prize. He will never win it–not ever. This is not because of anti-Trump prejudice either. He does not deserve it. He does not have the character for it. He has absolutely no interest in helping anyone.
Think about it: he believes that negotiations with North Korea is his ticket to glory. But he does not acknowledge he is being manipulated every bit as much as presidents before him–yes, yes, we will do that, of course! This, on North Korean dictators’ part, followed by angry refusals, things like ‘oh yeah? Give me what I want or I will destroy you!’ Every single time, since the Kim’s have been in power, for three generations, this has been the pattern. If you don’t know history . . .
But even if somehow, miraculously, this Korea plan works out, Donald Trump still would not deserve any prize. How can you be given acknowledgment for bringing peace to the world if, at the same time other people are negotiating in your name, you are busy tearing your own nation apart, being a childish schoolyard bully chanting names, laughing at people, blaming everyone other than yourself, and threatening anyone who disagrees with you? Even the worst people have done good things. Adolph Hitler, as has been said, got the trains to run on time.
But comparing Trump to Hitler is not only unfair–it is incorrect. It would also give him too much credit when he has actually accomplished nothing beyond further dividing the nation he is supposed to be leading. This man apparently even, I don’t know–blackmailed?–the Prime Minister of Japan into nominating him for the Nobel Prize, because he is a big baby who needs a fancy blue ribbon. All he should get if the Korea thing comes off is a certificate of participation. See? Everyone gets a prize!
People on the right have a curious idea of manhood and bravery and what is right and what is wrong. They come across almost exactly like the crybabies on the left, whining about something offending them, or hurting their feelings. They pretend that they favor free speech, and then register campaigns to outlaw certain things. Flag burning. Kneeling for the national anthem. Screaming obscenities at the President, all the while hurling them out at their political equal and opposites. The left is, of course, exactly the same with racism and sexism and homophobia and Islamophobia, and any other sort of organized hatred. They ignore the idea of free speech with their PC mindset.
There are two PC ideologies–the classic, liberal Political Correctness, and the same thing on the right, “Patriotic Correctness,” where anything they do not believe should be punished. On the right they seem to defend those who clearly abuse women–“#MeToo is a scam–lies that women use to destroy men!” they shout. Yet the only people they defend are those like themselves, the ass-slappers and “nice tits, honey,” guys who offend every woman they pass by. What about someone like Kevin Spacey? Where is his defense? After all, if you wish to downplay such horribleness, at least restore someone with talent!
We have gone off track a little, but I suppose this makes sense. This is how the sensitive react if they are not awarded for what they feel is their great accomplishments, regardless of how little regard anyone else has for their work. Circling back to myself for an example, I have won a few minor literary prizes–honors, to be sure, but nothing earth-shattering, nor anything most of you have ever heard of. But I have lost a great many more. With all of them, reading the winner, I irritatingly declare my own work superior. Sometimes I think the winning stories or articles pretty good, but never as wonderful as mine. Often my bitterness over losing clouds my critical vision, and all of it looks like shit to me. And even worse, on the many times my stories have been rejected for publication, or for consideration for a prize, I read the garbage voted as the best, and laugh an angry snort, wondering how stupid the judges are.
These behaviors are not uncommon, in any field. Athletes resent MVPs, singers, Grammy winners, actors, Oscar winners, and on and on and on. Having an ambition of doing something only to win a prize . . . this makes your work meaningless. It is no longer an offering to the world, whether of peace, of art, of entertainment. It is only about you. You. All that matters is you . . .