"As men, we alone among animal species have the power to envisage the future and to choose. We can act wisely and we can also act foolishly."
~ Rabbi Louis Finkelstein
I've had many discussions with friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers on the current situation in Syria, not to mention Burma, D.R. Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan. During these conversations, opinions will be brought up and discarded in the same breath. Anger, sadness, frustration and helplessness are just but a few of the emotions that are expressed. It is difficult to put into words the scope of tragedy and horror that exists TODAY because of intolerance in one shape or another.
We can stand all high and mighty on our pedestal of world power, but we forget that it was not long ago that many looked at us with the same disgust (and many continue to do so now due to certain popular political and religious views held by 'popular' and influential members of our society. We forget while we go out and sip fancy drinks and throw away a half eaten steak because it wasn't cooked properly or it was over seasoned that there are places in the world where something as simple as clean water is extremely difficult to obtain, be it due to war, poverty, or intentionally withheld to meet a political agenda.
"Today there is an urgent, practical necessity to work together on arms control, on the world economy, on the global environment. It is clear that the nations of the world now can only rise and fall together. It is not a question of one nation winning at the expense of another. We must all help one another or all perish together.
On occasions like this it is customary to quote homilies; phrases by great men and women that we've all heard before. We hear, but we tend not to focus. Let me mention one, a phrase that was uttered not far from this spot by Abraham Lincoln: 'With malice toward none, which charity for all...' Think of what that means. This is what is expected of us, not merely because our ethics command it, or because or religions preach it, but because it is necessary for human survival.
Here is another: 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' Let me vary it a little: A species divided against itself cannot stand. A planet divided against itself cannot stand. And [to be] inscribed on this Eternal Light Peace Memorial, which is about to be rekindled and rededicated, is a stirring phrase: 'A World United in the Search for Peace.'
... Where necessary, we must confront and challenge the conventional wisdom. It is time to learn from those who fell here. Our challenge is to reconcile, not after the carnage and the mass murder, but instead of the carnage and the mass murder.
It is time to act."
~ Carl Sagan - 1988 speech at Gettysburg, PA on the 125th anniversary of the battle where 51,000 were killed or wounded.
"The international community ... has the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. In this context we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity."
~ Responsibility to Protect doctrine adopted by the 60th Anniversary United Nations Summit.
I am not advocating attacks by one nation state against another or that the international community sit back and do nothing. I am pressing for dialogue and action that will end the suffering.
My destiny is tied to yours; our destiny is tied to theirs.