Friday afternoon, I went and heard one of Australia's former Foreign Ministers (now Director of the International Crisis Group), Gareth Evans speak as part the Sydney Ideas series (run by University of Sydney. He spoke about the Responsibility to Protect; which is a doctrine about the responsibility of the global community to act to protect citizens of countries under specific conditions (More info here).
One of the points I found interesting is how the language changed from "the right to intervene" to the "responsibility to protect". Whether the global communities have the will to act to prevent another Rwanda at some point (even as, in Darfur, and in Congo we see similar mass killings carried out) remains to be seen.
Been doing a little bit of reading over the weekend. I loved this piece from the New York Times, about the 'If Only' moment we all have when we just miss (or catch) a bus. In a theory of time that I have, I'm fairly convinced, that even if we slightly changed one event; we would not change the end-point; that is, if Lee Harvey-Oswald was not in the picture, JFK would still have been assassinated.
Also, given that its just over a week to go before the US Election I thought I'd post a couple of things, the first being a quote from a speech that Obama gave in Virginia which in some ways explains why I like him, how he speaks to how we can change the world in which we live - not to a perfect world, but simply too a better one.
At a defining moment like this, we don't have the luxury of relying on the same political games and the same political tactics that are used every election to divide us from one another and make us afraid of one another. With the challenges and crises we face right now, we cannot afford to divide this country by class or region; by who we are or what policies we support.
There are no real or fake parts of this country. We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this nation - we all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women from Virginia and all across America who serve on our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.
We have always been at our best when we've had leadership that called us to look past our differences and come together as one nation, as one people; leadership that rallied this entire country to a common purpose - to a higher purpose. And I am running for President of the United States of America because that is the country we need to be right now.
This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven't seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed the same divisions and fear tactics and our own petty differences to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?
Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other's success?
This is one of those moments. I realize you're cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you're disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what's been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe - to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together.
Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can't afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves.
We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had grandparents or parents who said maybe I can't go to college but my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son can be president of the United States of America.
Another piece from Focus on the Family, outlining how the US would change under an Obama presidency caught me eye, the piece was written as a letter from a Christian four years from now, about how attitudes to religion have changed society. (The letter is available here)
And the token U2 reference: here's a speech given by Bono at a Women's Conference recently.