Friday, June 24, 2016

On internationalism

In light of Brexit, in light of the isolationism and divisions that threaten global peace, let’s recall the original reasons that we joined together to form the United Nations and the EU. I harken back to Woodrow Wilson’s words. Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920 for his efforts to establish the League of Nations in the aftermath of the Great War (WWI). In his Fourteen Points speech, he addresses a rational global response to imperialism.
“In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end. For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this program does remove. …
“… An evident principle runs through the whole program I have outlined. It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak. Unless this principle be made its foundation no part of the structure of international justice can stand.”
The US Congress refused to ratify the League of Nations treaty, and another World War followed. However, Wilson instigated a century of global cooperation and codependence that have created global stability and economic prosperity. His words ring true for me today: “I would rather lose in a cause that will some day win, than win in a cause that will some day lose.”
We must take careful stock of this trend toward isolation. We must carefully consider the costs of turning away people who are in need, and excluding those who are weak, scared, injured and poor. We must more carefully articulate that we support international unity because we reject military aggression, we reject oppression, and we reject xenophobia. We reject these by standing together, in this global project in unification and cooperation.

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