"The Merchant of Death?" - by Rev. Weldon Bares


I read the obituaries in the newspaper every day. Imagine how strange it would be to read your own obituary. A famous man by the name of Alfred Nobel once had that experience, and it changed his life.

Alfred Noel was a brilliant scientist, inventor and chemist. In 1867, he invented dynamite and other more powerful explosives. He got very rich by dealing in the weapons business.

In 1888, his brother, Ludvig, passed away when he was visiting Cannes, France. The local newspaper made a mistake and believed that it was Alfred who had died. His death was reported with this headline: “The Merchant of Death is Dead.” The article stated, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Reading his own obituary horrified Alfred, but from that point on, he was determined to create a different legacy, a better legacy. So, Alfred Nobel, who never married and had no children, used nearly his entire fortune to create a foundation that awards annual prizes for eminence in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peacemaking. The Nobel Prizes are now considered to be the highest honor that someone can achieve in those fields.

The man who seemed destined to be remembered as “the merchant of death” instead became known as the benefactor of the Nobel Peace Prize. His story reminds us of something very important. It is never too late to change!