"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Love and Compassion and Responsibility in a shrinking world

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama emphasized that responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually.
The next day in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture he elaborated on the theme:

“The realisation that we are all basically the same human beings, who seek happiness and try to avoid suffering, is very helpful in developing a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood; a warm feeling of love and compassion for others. This, in turn, is essential if we are to survive in this ever shrinking world we live in. For if we each selfishly pursue only what we believe to be in our own interest, without caring about the needs of others, we not only may end up harming others but also ourselves. This fact has become very clear during the course of this century. We know that to wage a nuclear war today, for example, would be a form of suicide; or that by polluting the air or the oceans, in order to achieve some short-term benefit, we are destroying the very basis for our survival. As interdependents, therefore, we have no other choice than to develop what I call a sense of universal responsibility.”

Most importantly, we cannot confine the scope of our responsibilities to our own country. It is a matter of global justice that we have equal concern for the conditions in which our brothers and sisters live in poor parts of the world. In December 2001 a Statement was issued by 110 Nobel Laureates on the one-hundredth anniversary of the launch of the Nobel Prize. It included a plea for us all to reassess our global obligations to one another:

“The most profound danger to world peace in the coming years will stem not from the irrational acts of states or individuals but from the legitimate demands of the world's dispossessed. Of these poor and disenfranchised the majority live a marginal existence in equatorial climates. Global warming, not of their making but originating with the wealthy few, will affect their fragile ecologies most. Their situation will be desperate, and manifestly unjust. It cannot be expected, therefore, that in all cases they will be content to await the beneficence of the rich. If, then, we permit the devastating power of modern weaponry to spread through this combustible human landscape, we invite a conflagration that can engulf both rich and poor.”

We may need courage to take a stand, and we have to ensure that we are properly informed before making decisions. But surely it is now time that each and every one of us realized that we must bear our own share of responsibility in the shaping of our world, and then turn that realization into action.
Some debate whether war or climate change poses the greater threat to humanity. As expressed above, the two are in some ways linked. It is an unarguable fact that we have the technology and productive resources to eliminate worldwide misery, poverty and injustice howsoever caused. And we can thus remove some of the threats to peace and stability in many parts of the world.

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