Sovereignty

Zimbabwe's right or responsibility
Added: Tuesday, 8 July 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

A lot of African nations have been very diplomatic in their attitude towards Robert Mugabe, holding off on any direct criticism. The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, is one of those politicians whose stance has been to respect Zimbabwe's independence. Let them figure it out themselves. Change has to come from within. Zimbabwe is a sovereign nation.

But what is the meaning of sovereignty when that sovereignty starts jeopardizing the sovereignty of others? That – in effect – is what the highly controversial South African politician Jacob Zuma asked the world just last week. In other words it's okay to ignore Mugabe's silent strangulation of his own people, it's not our business after all (so seem to think many). But if that strangulation starts to affect us South Africans, then it sure is our business!

And it's been affecting us for a long time now. Zimbabweans in South Africa make up the highest number of immigrants. They'd rather risk being burned alive by angry xenophobic mobs in Johannesburg than stay in Zimbabwe. They're affecting our social structures, our human rights situation and our economy. Zimbabwe's political "exhaust" is polluting our "environment" and that is really no big surprise.

Because if, as human beings, we are all indeed the cells of one body, as I have argued poetically for so long, then our "rights" and "freedoms", our "sovereignty" - as unique and important as we may be – may all be valuable, but should be subject to the greater good. In other words, Zimbabwe's interests should come second to the interests of the world at large. And so should the interests of any group or nation. The notion of "sovereignty" is null and void if that sovereignty becomes a cancer that threatens to kill the body at large. And which cancer doesn't eventually spread? The wellbeing of the whole should be the first and foremost goal of every just nation (or society, or family or...). At the moment, it is the goal of no nation.

And that is the paradigm shift we so sorely need. While 19th century scientists promoted the notion of "the survival of the fittest", an adversarial notion of exclusivity, 21st century scientists and Baha'u'llah's revelation point to the survival of the human race depending on its very unity – a mutualistic, inclusive notion. And this is not only a pretty, happy-clappy and sweet paradigm, it is the only way forward for a world that is crumbling at its foundations.

Beyond our social, economic and political interdependence, the environment, shamelessly borderless and honest, is teaching us that our short-sighted and selfish exploitation of mother earth is coming back to bite us hard. And persisting on our own sovereignty as though we were isolated entities, is going to do the very same.

Yes, however the process of learning about the intimate connection will be painful. I think other more distant parts of the body politic will become inspired to help South Africa for example once South Africa realizes it has no choice but to recognize the intimate association it has with its neighbor. And with that open acknowledgment, will come a requirement to take action, and with that will come requirement to follow up the effects of any action, so that once the first step and the second step and third step is made....you get the picture. There are those who see the journey as infinite, indefinite, expensive, and most importantly unrewarding at least in this world. Any volunteers?

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