Elizabeth Moschella King and Obama make arguments against and for violence respectively; however; King’s rhetoric utilizes emotion and values, or pathos, to advance his idea of a ”genuine civilization,” while Obama uses logic and realism to advance his idea of facing the “world as it is. ” Though King and Obama are accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for different reasons, we find that they connect through their words in a way that makes them seem as though they aren’t decades apart. Each acknowledges that the world as it is, the good and the bad alike, needs to change.
King accepted his award for all of the nonviolent movements he has caused for the equality of blacks, yet he acknowledges that not all nonviolent movements end in nonviolence. Fighting for what is right can often lead to “wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets” (line 48). King even realizes that “one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed” (lines 53-54). It has become clear that King uses his emotion and religious values to get his point across to us; he uses words with such a power that can persuade his listeners to believe anything.
He manipulates our minds and speaks with such a certainty that seems to connect with us the same way Obama does using logic and realism. Obama accepted his award for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. This means that he has accepted this prize for his efforts to make peace in a place where it had seemed near impossible. Yet, Obama too addresses that peace cannot come about with only nonviolent actions. The world as it is is full of war and fighting for your beliefs. “I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people” (lines 80-81).
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It is recognized that “…Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason” (lines 81-85). Obama is using his way of logos when making these fact-based statements; he is using a form of truth and logic to get a listener emotionally connected with the world and realizing all of the horrible events that occur everyday.
In this way Obama and King are similar; they both get the audience emotionally attached and moved by the words spoken. Anyone who listens to or reads either one of their acceptance speeches realizes how humble they both are about the prize, and are ashamed they didn’t do more to help the violent world. In a way, King would be proud of how far Obama has gotten in the world. Going from a fight for justice led by King for black rights to Obama, a black, elected as the President of the United States, the world has taken a dramatic turn towards hope and prosperity.
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