Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Story of an Idea

We watched this short video tonight at our Red Cross Disaster Management course. It describes the origin story of the Red Cross movement and the birth of the Geneva Conventions.

When I was in the army we studied military law, the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law - basically the rules of war - from a vastly different (but surprisingly similar) viewpoint than I study it now. Human nature has demanded this body of law evolve (sometimes in leaps and bounds, like after the second world war) because of the new and interesting ways we increasingly find to hurt each other... There is an inherent inhumanity within our humanity, one can not exist meaningfully without the other.

This is both a familiar and unfamiliar place for me. Perhaps it is only my perceived role that has changed within this scenario - to go from a soldier actor to a neutral actor, but it feels like I have come full circle.

Albert Schweitzer (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize) said "When Humanity finally learns to control the elements, when the winds will be quiet and the earth can not be torn apart, when there will be no loneliness, no destitution, no war; when the last hungry man, woman or child is fed, only then will there be no need for the Red Cross."

Humanity. Inhumanity. My struggle has always been to find the appropriate balance. You can't have one without the other.

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