Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Conflict ethics

Each year I have to have training to retain professional status as a Mediator. The most recent session concerned ethics. The wonderful part of talking about ethics is how quickly situations can become absurd. Ethics deals with how you act and the impact awareness of those actions. Right off the start my first question dealt with Syria.
Does a country that is supplying equipment, training and money to groups that are causing a great deal of destruction have any responsibility to those that are being killed? That question quickly moves into another area, are weapon manufacturers responsible as well? Then there is the situation with Viktor Bout, who is has been in jail for years, who supplied weapons and assistance to others.  
To add a twist to this ethical debate, why are drug companies responsible for the deaths of people who use their product yet if you eat junk food and die as a result there is no such responsibility? One of my favourite questions in ethics deals with the invention of the remote control and the advent of the couch potato, let your mind wander on that.
At first these situations are easy to push away as personal choices. As you dig deeper and look at society you have to be very aware of how gullible the population truly is. How far can you take advantage of the gullibility before it becomes unethical? For example, we have just witnessed some of the largest ponzi schemes ever and the result is bringing the European Union to its knees.
In the area where I live most mediations deal with family disputes. Naturally the issue that was raised dealt with the children and who is best to raise them. It is very common for these children to be used as bargaining chips, shields, spies, and subversives. In truth I have seen child soldiers go through less trauma.
Looking at all of these examples there is an element of prevention versus cure. For most of my life I have focused on prevention of chaos. Such a view has trained me to look at an issue and project that situation as far into the future as possible. Due to that I can see a way through most issues that I look at. Getting back to Syria, it really pains me to see how terribly we have dealt with that situation. The country is in tatters because no one had the courage to apply the ethics of nonviolence.
Here we are with a country in tatters, massive loss of life and still no end in sight. All that has been achieved in the past seven months is turning Syria into garbage heap. The people who just want to live peacefully are caught in the middle of idiots arguing over who is more destructive. As I think of that I must ask, how do you rectify idiocy with ethics?
The quick answer is education and that will only work if the people are willing to learn, change and co-operate. As brutal as it seems, there are times when you have to let the war rage on as you work to contain the damage. That is what is taking place in Syria.

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