We Have Moral Obligations – Do Something

Sometimes I don’t like the world we live in.

I don’t.

It is frequently inhumane, lacks compassion and treats the vulnerable with callous indifference.

Right now, a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions is right under our noses. People as in men, women, children, old and young, fleeing war, oppression and slaughter in countries like Syria and Afghanistan.

The desperation of these refugees is such they will take to anything floating and undertake the perilous journey over water, to reach safety and hopefully a new life. It’s a dance with the devil. You are maybe damned if you do and almost certainly damned if you don’t. Take the risk and die. Stay and definitely die. Would you call that a choice?  It’s being played out nightly on the TV news. Many make it. Some do not. But despite the obvious risk, they come. And keep coming. Desperation makes you crazy.

We see these people arrive in the thousands. A human tidal wave, showing no sign of abating. A human tidal wave, that Europe largely doesn’t want to know, doesn’t know what to do with, or how to stop. It’s not going to stop. If anything it will continue to swell.

But what is really important is our collective response, with few exceptions, to these people who need our help. What has it been? We close our borders, or in the case of Australia, the country I live in, we close our borders, tow them back to their stepping off point or, if that doesn’t work, force to them to go to a glorified prison in some god forsaken rat hole like Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. They used to come in relatively large numbers. Now they don’t come  at all. Our Australian Government takes the credit for this. As if there is credit to be taken. It trumpets the catch cry, we stopped the boats, as if it’s something laudable. I guess it could be if you think cruelty is laudable.

These people committed no crime. Unless you believe asking for help is a crime. And no good pretending we don’t collectively share some culpability for their displacement. They are currently living in a war zone in the countries I already mentioned. And countries like the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Australia are contributing to that war zone by dropping bombs and missiles. Even if you truly believe it is a necessary evil to do this, it doesn’t excuse our responsibility to the people displaced as a result.

Syria is a political and social catastrophe. A catastrophe, in all probability, it may never recover from. I understand that. But we can’t simply shrug our shoulders and pretend we aren’t human beings. If people are in need, we have a moral obligation to help them. I am unable to process how we can simply look away and pretend they don’t exist or pretend it’s too big or pretend that we don’t have that obligation. Sorry but we do. It was one of the things we all signed up for in order to become a member of the human race. Even if you don’t believe what I am saying, then believe this: It’s the right thing to do.

I was looking at a video the other day that made me very sad at what we have become. It showed a homeless boy on the streets of a wealthy and affluent American city begging for help. It was cold and he was dressed in rags and carrying a plastic bag. All he had in the world. He was weak and desperate. It was etched on his face. But people simply kept walking and pretending he didn’t exist. We do indifference so well. In the end, another homeless man gave this young boy some help in the form of donating his own warm jacket. Two desperate individuals but one prepared to sacrifice what little he had to help a fellow human being. It was uplifting but at the same time morally bankrupt.

If you want to abrogate your responsibility, think this isn’t your circus, want to turn a blind eye to the suffering of your fellow humans, fine. But go and live on another planet because you certainly don’t belong on this one.

Armageddon

I read something today that has not reared its ugly head for at least two decades or more. Two words that are frightening and chilling: Nuclear War.

Just when I thought that human beings had come to the realization that nuclear war doesn’t end in anyone’s victory. You just succeed in annihilating the human race. So what is the point of even talking about it? Well try telling that to Vladimir Putin. He seems to think there is a point. So much so that he deliberately warned of nuclear war in relation to any NATO plans for intervention in the Ukraine.

He told a Youth Forum, and the irony should not be lost here, Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations in the world. It is a reality, he said, not just words. Little did he realise or maybe he did realise he would also be condemning his audience of young Russians to annihilation.

A conventional war has already begun in the Ukraine. That is why Putin’s words should chill to the bone. Ukraine’s Defence Minister warned on Facebook to expect casualties in the tens of thousands. He said a Great War had arrived at Ukraine’s doorstep the likes of which Europe had not seen since World War 2. And it seems Putin agrees with that assessment. The Russian President reportedly told the outgoing President of the European Commission that if Russia wanted to it could take Kiev in two weeks. What is even more worrying, if that could be possible, NATO is taking Putin’s words seriously. They are already discussing a rapid response force of several thousand soldiers to react to any invasion of a member state. It will also include combat aircraft and naval ships from all 28 members of NATO. At this stage Ukraine is not a member of NATO, thank God, but it wants to be and NATO wants it to be.

Putin in even more inflammatory language referred to eastern Ukraine as the new Russia and warned the United States and NATO to back off. Putin said Russia did not want to engage in any large-scale conflicts. But at the same time one Russian news agency quoted him as saying that Russia was “ strengthening our nuclear deterrent forces and our armed forces” which seems to suggest the exact opposite.

Some estimates suggest that Russia has 1800 operational nuclear weapons with a stockpile of an additional 7000 warheads.

Russia is now making no secret of its intentions in relation to Ukraine. Russian tanks, trucks and armored vehicles have been observed crossing its borders with Ukraine. Pictures have been flooding into social media sites. A major Ukrainian airport is reported to have fallen to Russian forces. Loyalist Ukrainian forces are digging in around cities on the Baltic coast. The Russian objective at this point is to capture a bridge of land between its territory and the Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine says its forces are already in retreat. They will be no match for the might of Russia. Just how many Russian soldiers are presently fighting in Ukraine is anyone’s guess. Some say a thousand troops others say five thousand. The point is the deployment is only going to get more substantial as time goes on.

This is a nightmare waiting to happen. The worse case scenario: a nightmare that’s already begun. Certainly it is already for Ukraine. The way things stand it won’t take much for it to be upon us all. And God help us all if that happens.