Archive for the ‘Peace and war’ Category.
The debate concerning freedom of speech and the Human Rights Commissions rages on.
I worked for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission for six years and for the Canadian Commission for twelve years, and retired in 1991, so I have had some opportunities to consider such matters.
I value freedom of speech very highly, but there has to be some way of curtailing gratuitous offensive language.
It is pretty well understood that in the matter of race relations certain expressions commonly used in the past are offensive and insulting and their use has been largely eliminated in polite society. We have generally accepted the racial minorities’ own identification of the offensive words; they know better than do the rest of us which words are hurtful.
Surely the same principle should apply in religious matters. If for no other reason than common courtesy we should be considerate of the feelings of others and avoid hurting them. If we value our own freedom of religion, we will accord the minorities freedom of religious belief and practice and do nothing to hurt them or make them feel inferior, despised or unwanted.
If there was some worthy benefit to be gained by using offensive language it might be justified. But such practice is surely an attempt to elevate people who are already in a positions of power and to put down those who are disadvantaged or different.
One more factor. It is well known that there are tensions between much of “the Moslem world” and much of “the Christian world”. People of goodwill on both sides are trying hard to maintain peace. Printing the religiously offensive cartoons from the Danish newspaper “Politiken” is surely what used to be called “warmongering” or saber-rattling”. We don’t want war, but history teaches that there are extremists on both sides who might bring it on. Let us not fan the flames.
Your editorial of August 31 laments Russia’s violation of Georgia, which was apparently undertaken to guarantee a dependable supply of oil and to strengthen Russia’s position in Europe and Asia.
I agree that this action is extremely regrettable, and potentially threatens world peace.
Two or more can play that game, however. And we do. Some examples:
1. Many of us believe that the main reason for the American invasion of Iraq was to secure the supply of oil from that region.
2. I understand that missile bases are being placed near the borders of Russia, and the American government denies that they are aimed at Russia. Can we expect the Russian government and people to accept that denial?
3. Our newspapers (some of them) publish cartoons that ridicule other people’s religion in the name of freedom of expression. Do we really expect the targeted people to smile and be happy?
Some of us would call such actions “war mongering”.
Published in the Chronicle Herald, Sunday, September 7, 2008
Someone has written of believing six impossible things before breakfast. It is strange what impossible things we believe when we think it is to our advantage to do so.
- that tobacco smoke is harmless;
- that global warming is a myth;
- that American missile sites on Russian borders will promote world peace;
- that we can best promote peace through exploitation and force;
- that insulting someone else’s religion does not threaten world harmony;
- that Israeli “settlements” in Arab lands should be accepted graciously by the Arabs;
- that privatization of health care will be less costly and more effective than one-payer health care;
- that higher profits for millionaires promote the general economic welfare of the country;
- that we can promote world justice by denying justice and ignoring international law.
The Hon. Peter MacKay,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Canada
Dear Peter MacKay:
I have heard on reliable authority that since 2001 more than 800 social activists in the Philippines have been assassinated in waves of state-sponsored terrorism. Most of these were human rights workers, clergy, lawyers, journalists and labour leaders who had dedicated their lives to the betterment of society. The country is much the poorer for the loss.
Myanmar has also been in the news again, with reports of similar oppression. And Zimbabwe is in a state of chronic disaster and growing chaos and poverty.
I realize that Canada’s power to effect change in such societies is limited. But there are ways in which we can exert an influence, along with other nations of good will. I remember hearing Wendell Willkie, during the American presidential campaign of 1940, saying that this was “one world”. Many people in later years have reiterated those words. The more peace and justice exist even in countries in distant parts of the globe, the stronger is the basis for peace and prosperity everywhere – including Canada.
Please make every possible effort to assist in the development of stable democracy in such lands.
While I have your attention, let me say that we have in our present Governor General an excellent ambassador to send abroad, particularly to the developing countries of Africa and Asia. With her personality, accomplishments and background, and with what she represents, she brings hope and encourages democracy wherever she goes.
With good wishes for success in your work,
The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper,
Prime Minister of Canada
Dear Mr. Harper:
Apparently the Canadian government has allied itself with Israel in its struggle against the Palestinians. I want to remind you of some Biblical and historical facts.
In the second millennium B.C. the Israelites wrested the land of Palestine from the Canaanites, and occupied it for some 1300-1400 years until about 70 A.D. when they were dispersed by the Romans. Then the Palestinians had it largely to themselves (under various conquerors) until the Zionist movement of the late 19th century, when the Jews began returning in considerable numbers. International approval of their return was signalled by the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and in 1948 the nation of Israel came into being through the military defeat of Palestine by the Zionists. Since that time the world has generally held that the Israeli people and the Palestinians share historic rights to the land.
Thus, over a period of some 3300 years the land of Palestine has been Jewish for approximately 1500 years, and Palestinian (non-Jewish) for 1800 years. It would seem reasonable to hold that on the basis of history both peoples have some rights to the territory.
The Jews however have not been content with the 1948 boundaries, but have seized the best land and gradually pushed the Palestinians into smaller and poorer enclaves, making it impossible for them to rise out of poverty. The recently built walls are only the latest impediments placed in their way.
George W. Bush’s regime is a falling star, and rightly so. Do not hitch your wagon to it. One cannot force a people to adopt democracy, particularly when it has never known democracy in the past, and when the enforcers are in a position to benefit economically thereby.
Does God really want war? Can a new world war be a prelude to the Second Coming of Christ? Never! See Micah 6:6-8 and Amos 5:24. Can you imagine Jesus bombing anyone? I can’t! Would he want his followers to be unjust? Apparently Bush is supported by many people whose view of Christianity is different from mine!
Yours for a better Canada and a better world!