"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." —Dalai Lama XIV
The Golden Rule
Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”
This principle of reciprocity is the ethical and moral foundation of all the world’s major religions. Multilateralism is the logical political outgrowth of this principle. An international order based on cooperation, equity and the rule of law is its needed expression.
Where this rule of reciprocity is violated, instability follows. The failure of the nuclear weapons states to abide by their pledge, contained in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons is the single greatest stimulus to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. For some to say nuclear weapons are good for them but not for others is simply not sustainable.
The threat to use nuclear weapons on innocent people can never be ethically legitimate and this taint is not cleansed by the righteousness of the few possessing the weapon. Imagine the affront to equity and logic if someone proposed that the Biological Weapons Convention should be amended to say that no country can use polio or smallpox as a weapon but that nine countries can use the plague to maintain international peace and stability through a deterrence model. The incoherence of this proposition is patently offensive. So is the current posture of nuclear weapons. There is a moral and practical imperative for their abolition.
Equity and good qualities in policy bring benefits and bad qualities exacerbate problems. For example, the reparations of World War I led to the chaos that birthed Nazism. The generosity of the Marshall Plan led to trading partners, stability and national well deserved pride. Moral coherence leads to success and stability. The Millennium Development Goals represent a Global Marshall Plan’s beginning. History shows us what really works.
Ethical values work on every level. I would like to add two new rules for Nations.
First, the Rule of Nations: “Treat other nations as you wish your nation to be treated.”
Second, the Rule of the Powerful: “As one does so shall others do.”
We are faced with a moment of collective truth: the ethical, spiritually based insights of the wise coincide with material physical imperatives for survival. The value of the love of power must give way to the power of love. In today’s world, leadership must be guided by the duty to love one’s neighbor as oneself. This includes the duty to protect the weakest neighbor. And, today, the whole world is one neighborhood – a moral location, not just a physical one.
What was once an admonition as a personal necessity for inner growth has now become a principle that we must learn to utilize in forming public policies. The rule is offended by ethnic and religious exclusivity and prejudice, nationalistic expansionism, economic injustice and environmental irresponsibility. How should we view the security of people?
May I suggest that Timothy Wirth, when he was United States Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, was correct when he stated that a productive focus of multilateral security should begin with people:
Security is now understood in the context of human security. Human security is about the 1 billion individuals who live in abject poverty. It is about the 800 million people who go hungry every day -- the 240 million malnourished. The 17 million who die each year from easily preventable diseases fall into this definition of security, as do the 1.3 billion people without access to clean water and the more than 2 billion people who do not benefit from safe sanitation.
Is this not similar to Jesus admonition to see the presence of God in the least amongst us?
Failure to change from the flawed paradigm in which security is pursued primarily through violence reinforces the brutality inflicted upon millions of daily lives destroyed by conventional weapons, including small arms and anti personnel land mines. And we cannot overlook the exorbitant economic waste and social costs of militarism -- more than ten trillion dollars since the end of the Cold War.
If we do not quickly get over the ridiculous excessive attachment to that which divides us, we will fail to establish effective institutions and policies in our time and we will fail to treat future generations as we would be treated. Such failure cannot be accepted by any parent who has looked into the eyes of their children.
We have developed excessively sophisticated technologies for destruction. For our survival, we require appropriate social and human technologies for cooperation, for disarmament -- for our very humanity.
Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq is an Eskimo-Kalaallit Elder. At the Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations he said that his peoples’ history goes back thousands of years and only now are we finding lakes in the Artic ice cap. He questioned, “You have technology that is melting the ice. When will we develop a technology to melt the human heart?” Living the Golden Rule is that technology. Yes, there is a there bottom line and it should not be ignored. Yes, there is also a human ideal and it must be continually pursued and lived. States must begin to do it and each of us must do it. May we be ones who demonstrate those human values in action.