Dear Editor - I would like to thank Alastair Summerlee for hosting the forum "Human rights and human wrongs" in the President's Dialogue at the University of Guelph June 11.
As Canadians, there is little that concerns our collective consciousness more than human rights, except perhaps the environment, and Sheila Watt-Cloutier clearly illuminated the indisputable connection between the two.
The role of the media as a tool to both inspire citizens to action as well as to enforce accountability in our elected officials was pointed out by Romeo Dallaire.
Guelph's Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik observed that most citizens of affluence or "comfortable people" do after all care about the issues facing the global community today, but their caring is delimited by a desire to not have to sacrifice themselves, which is why responsibilities get handed over to non-governmental organizations.
Pamela Wallin spoke of the risk of casualties being a factor when determining how involved we as a nation should become, and that was echoed by Dallaire when he asked, "If nothing tangible could be achieved economically, strategically, etc., then what do we gain by intervening?"
He then answered his own question by saying, "self-interest should be less important than humanitarianism."
In fact, may I say that what we as a nation gain by intervening in cases of genocide is of a moral nature. Even if the victims rescued from genocide are incapable of rewarding their liberators with economic benefits, the reward comes nonetheless in the form of virtue; something that might seem intangible on the surface, yet in reality is far reaching and builds great strength.
The victims of torture and genocide in China include Falun Gong practitioners whose entire essence is wrapped up in the unflinching desire to practise truth-compassion-tolerance. By virtue of this drive for moral and spiritual refinement, families are ripped apart, people are thrown into "Re-education-through-labour camps" and prisons, and even mental institutions.
The Communist regime's inability to crush these peaceful people has led to an escalation of rage, culminating in allegations of the illegal seizure of vital organs from living practitioners; organs such as hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, which are then sold in China's thriving organ trade.
All of this is taking place while the world's people debate the merits of intervention.
As Canadians, not only will history judge us, but so will Heaven. When truth-compassion-tolerance is persecuted yet Canada stands idly by weighing the options of economic benefits vs. humanitarianism, Heaven will indeed see our hearts.
We need to be clear that inaction is, in fact, a form of action, in the form of a choice.
Indecision can temporarily be excused, but that grace period has a boundary and we have reached that point.
Certainly Dallaire's view that Canada is immature politically is correct, but in spite of this, I still suggest that now is the time for Canada to take a leading role that would earn boundless virtue, and would undoubtedly inspire other nations to follow their collective global conscience at the same time, as well.
Dr. Ashraf Ghani spoke of "levelling the playing field" and providing a voice for those who have none.
Indeed, I urge all Canadians to act as the voice for everyone in China who have been silenced by the Communist regime.
China is a great nation on the verge of being reborn, and we stand ready in the delivery room.
Our university's hosting of "Human rights and human wrongs" is an invaluable exchange of experiences, insights, and goals, with the effect of stimulating people's imaginations and hearts, while reinforcing through illumination our global responsibilities.
Thank you for taking the lead in this area, and let us now be inspired to action.
-- Laura Wong, Guelph