My mom had a standard comment that she would make whenever there was a report of a bizarre incident in the news.
Sshe would say: “The world has gone mad.”
Unfortunately, my mom passed away in 2003, but I can still hear her voice today whenever I hear about the latest act of terrorism, violence perpetrated on innocent people or the onslaught of political gaffs that get reported out on the airwaves, and I find myself echoing her sentiment, especially these past couple weeks, with the coverage of MP Jody Wilson-Raybould’s accounts of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Yet every once in a while, a voice of reason shines through and I get a surge of hopefulness about the state of the world, which was the case when I listened a while back to an archived radio interview that I now rely on to inspire me to not believe the world has gone mad.
The interview was with 97-year-old Benjamin Ferencz, who is the oldest living prosecutor from the Nuremburg trials, which tried perpetrators of the Nazi death camps.
After a lifetime of experiences that placed him face to face with the ills of war, he has come to the conclusion that the answer to the problem of war is to “end war-making.”
His conclusions are logical, but not simple and demonstrably not likely, judging by the amount of war coverage that can be seen in the news and the recent escalation of nuclear arms development by countries such as North Korea and Russia that re-introduces the world to the fear of Armageddon, which we have lived somewhat sheltered from since the Cold War.
However, his words resonated with me to the point that I have gone back to the interview a few times, as it is so inspiring to read how he still holds out hope that people will finally see the senselessness of war and move towards compassion, tolerance and compromise, that will then prompt the change from spending billions of dollars on armaments to instead spending the money on education, caring for seniors or social justice issues.
He points out the recklessness of heads of states, due to simply not agreeing, thus dragging countries into war. And I found myself embracing his belief that since political leaders have so many diplomatic strategies available within the existing structures of the UN and other bodies that have been developed to prevent war, that any leader employing acts of war should be charged with war crimes.
“What I’m proposing is not such a horrible thing – settle your disputes by peaceful means only. That is the legal requirement accepted by nations in the UN Charter and systematically ignored, and particularly by the powerful nations, particularly the permanent members of the UN Security Council. They were entrusted with the responsibility which begins in order to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” he said.
I recently went back and read the interview again, prompted by the revelations of Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony to the Justice Committee about the SNC-Lavalin affair. I have felt extremely disappointed in the Prime Minister’s Office for placing Ms. Wilson-Raybould in the situation she was put in by trying to pressure her into supporting the government’s efforts of securing a remediation agreement for engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, which, without such, could face criminal prosecution on corruption charges.
I feel that the activities of the PMO have dropped Canada’s credibility on the world stage as a defender of the rule of law.
And although none of us should underestimate the pressures faced by the prime minister to meet the demands of our country, this prime minister said he was going to address them differently and time and time again he stated he would not compromise our values, and now it appears he is not different and he has compromised them.
Mr. Ferencz, as a lawyer, sees the rule of law as one of the tools to hold those accountable for ruining countries through the on-going activities of war and weapon development that supports war-making.
When I first heard Mr. Ferencz’s position, I truly felt that I lived in a country that could be part of the solutions that he spoke of, because of our values and the fact that our country respects the rule of law.
That is until Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould exposed us all to the fact the PMO believes retaining power trumps the rule of law.
If you are listening, mom, I think the world is going mad.
Cheryl Ashlie is a former Maple Ridge school trustee, city councillor, constituency assistant and citizen of the year, and currently president of ARMS.