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  • Thinking Ethics was a project launched in Geneva to foster the debate about ethics. A few friends, fed up with only reading about abuses in the media, decided to hold a forward-looking seminar on five subjects: ethics and performance, ethics and knowledge, ethics and consciousness, ethics and disobedience and ethics in real time. If moral has to do with right and wrong, then ethics is its application in society. We believe that people need to talk about the subject to determine the level of ethics they want. The book Thinking Ethics, a result of the seminar, is to start the discussion. This blog is a contribution to the conversation.


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May 16, 2008


steven andresen

It seems to me the difficulties the international community has with the government of Myanmar in getting permission to provide aid to the suffering people of Myanmar is about a long standing dispute, a dispute that has been allowed to fester. It now comes out that the government there would rather its own people suffer even more after the natural disaster, rather than have foreigners enter the country.

Maybe the government wants to put some restrictions on the aid. Like, they only want the Myanmar military or police distribute the goods. This might be because of some high degree of suspicion on the motives of those offering aid. Maybe, the military and government want to keep the goods for themselves and don't want the foreign ers to know about that.

The effort to help the people cannot be divorced from the context. The international community failed to deal with the fact that the government of Myanmar distrusts outsiders, or they are just corrupt. Whatever, the difficulty the aid groups have now in trying to get help to the suffering people is not just a matter of the Myanmar government being obstructionist. The responsibility for the problem extends to the international community for letting the problem of its government be the way it is fester.

We have the same problem here. The world community has allowed the United States to run around being the vigilante of the world, and now the world is suffering because of their having failed to take steps.

That is, back when the U.S. was invading and terrorizing Central American countries, our backyard, no one in the international community said anything. When the U.S. was bombing the shit out of Southeast Asia, no one said anything. Now, when the U.S. invades Afghanistan, and Iraq, people might say something, because these's the oil, but no one has done anything effective. Next, we might have an invasion of Iran.

I suspect when we get around to bombing Paris, someone might try doing something.

They might try sending in aid. But, will the President of the United States allow it?

I am not saying that I think it's right for the U.S. to be the world's policeman. I think in trying to do that, it's very easy to loose one's way and let that kind of power corrupt the mission.

Maybe I'm saying we should be our brother's keeper. That is, we should think of these governments and their people as our brothers. If they get crazy, instead of lobbing in a hand grenade to eliminate them, and allow for collateral damage, we need to address their complaints with a lot more compassion.

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