When it was announced Al Gore had been named a co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, some wondered if they meant the "Nobel Green Peace Prize." Global warming and world peace don't blend well in the minds of many.
But then the Peace Prize has changed over time. Once seen as an award for peacemakers who got people to stop throwing hand grenades at each other, the prize now has come to represent "Service to Humanity."
Mother Teresa won it for her care of the dying on the streets of Calcutta. Did she bring peace? Perhaps. She also sowed discord. But above it all, she gave people hope. For her, it was the Nobel Hope Prize.
Last year, Muhammad Yunus won the prize for giving low-interest business loans to Third World families. He, too, was pushing compassion and caring more than peace.
And so with Al Gore.
No doubt, the debate will grow hotter now over global warming. But for Gore's part, he has tried to get people to think more responsibly about the planet and to not take for granted things that are finite. In that, he too has helped the world find true north and live more wisely.
We feel his prize is deserved.
Some speculate that winning the prize will propel Gore into the 2008 presidential race, but he says if anything he is less inclined to run now. And who could blame him? At the moment, he is basking in the sheen of being a regal champion of humanity. All a presidential race would do is reawaken sleeping memories of his old fund-raising woes, his comments about inventing the Internet and his wooden demeanor.
He serves better as a role model that politicians and others can find a life in later years if they care to, and that embracing a cause can pay off for those willing to work for it.
The last American to win the prize was Jimmy Carter. He also showed that there's no glory in resting on your laurels. His work for Habitat for Humanity has been laudable.
If nothing else, that lesson that being alive means being willing to serve is a timely one.