Major historical moments sometimes pass almost unnoticed. Last month we witnessed not only a major breakthrough in addressing tensions in the Middle East, but perhaps a major breakthrough in how our planet might better address lawlessness and crisis.
Surprisingly it was not national governments that instigated the change, but ordinary people across the globe forcefully calling for diplomacy and the rule of law rather than military intervention in addressing the crime of the use of chemical weapons. The British Parliament refused to support their prime minister’s call to back the U.S. in using military strikes against Syria. Most other countries’ governments agreed.
President Barack Obama and Congress took the cue from a deluge of calls opposing military strikes against Syria and the risk of yet another war. Obama engaged Congress before unilaterally allowing an act of war. And the Russian government applied diplomacy in calling for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons. All this happened so quickly, so amazingly, that the press and most of us were not able to take it sufficiently in.
And now, in perhaps an even more important matter, Obama has broken a 34-year silence between the U.S. and Iran by making a call and engaging in a diplomatic effort to address nuclear disarmament and improving relations between the two countries and thus the whole of the Middle East. And perhaps most important of all, we are all now more aware of the importance of the rule of international law, cooperation, and accountability to ourselves as a whole planet, not just as exceptional, entitled and individual nations.
Violence and war are not effective answers to addressing injustice. What works is abiding by just laws, accountability for those who break them, and engaging in conversations and diplomacy about differences and injustice whether it be in our homes, our local communities or in the international community.
This past month has provided an encouraging moment in history, and I am deeply grateful.