Thursday, May 29, 2008

Finally, something that unites religions of the world

By Khaled Hamid
A major and an unusual event took place earlier today uniting people from ALL major religions of the world. Look at this list of diverse nations that agreed on that one thing: US (Western Christianity), Russia (Eastern Christianity), China (Buddhism/atheism), India (Hinduism), Pakistan (Islam), and Israel (Judaism). Any lucky guesses what brought the disparate parties together?
Sorry ladies and gentlemen. I am not talking about prospects of world peace, abolition of poverty or God revealing Himself to all humanity. I am talking about little flying things that go by the ‘cute’ name of bomblets.
I know this is not a political blog but the list of those countries, covering all major world belief systems, uniting behind anything makes religion somehow come to my mind.
Some of you may know by now that earlier on Wednesday, 111 nations have approved in Dublin a treaty banning the use, manufacturing, distribution, and selling of cluster bombs. These horrible weapons are considered indiscriminate, they cover wide areas that tend to include civilians and, moreover, they have high failure rates (see photo below).
The unexploded 10% of the hundreds of bomblets released from each cluster bomb just lay there, waiting for civilians coming back to war-torn areas after the war is over. The bomblets tend to have bright color, attracting children who make a significant fraction of the post-hostilities victims in areas carpet-bombed by cluster devices. Hundreds of civilians are still being reported injured, maimed or killed since the end of Kosovo/Serbian war, the 2006 Israel war in Lebanon, and, believe it or not, in Vietnam still.
It would seem, then, that the ban on cluster bombs is a reason for celebration and cause to unite behind. It definitely has a pretty good moral foundation. But that is NOT what united those 6 countries. They united behind NOT approving it. They simply refused to be part of the negotiations. They opted out.
The reason, as some observer mentioned, is that those countries are the largest manufacturers and/or stockpilers of those horrible devices. Why would they waste a perfectly good bomb?
Money was the main reason the British military objected early on. But the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, took the decision to ban cluster bomb use by the UK, overriding his military, in a move that pushed the treaty beyond the final hurdles and got it approved. He felt that the 80 million or so dollars to be wasted were a minor sacrifice considering the harm done by these weapons.
The British PM was quoted saying that the ban was “in line with British interests and values, and makes the world a safer place.”
Hats off to Mr. Brown, who had his priorities right this time.
As for the objecting nations, nothing is new there. Throughout history, the mighty buck has proven a strong rival to deities of all kinds.
That is probably why the question ‘what would Jesus do?’ - or its equivalent in other religions - has never been frequently or seriously contemplated in making decisions in business, politics or war.
I am opposed to making religion a gold standard in the public arena, but shouldn’t morality be part of the decision making process for all of us?
Additional links:
Cluster bombs explained - The Guardian
111 Nations, Minus the U.S., Agree to Cluster-Bomb Ban - The Washington Post
Turnabout key to cluster bomb ban - LATimes

1 comment:

  1. As if war was not repugnant enough, man has invented a way to increase the horror when rulers and nations disagree. What nation on earth would not sign such an agreement? OH... What nation, indeed!! I am old enough to have studied a civics class in high school. Two things become evident from my memories of that class.....1: My beloved country has strayed far off the path, 2: It was all a lie.