Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 15, 2007
Global Conscience offers hope to our sad, battered world
Retired senator Douglas Roche documents a new global ethic happening
"We have to be able to see past the problems of the day to observe a shift in human thinking."
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
There is much disorder, confusion and ranting in the world today. Every day brings more news of war, poverty, human rights violations and environmental degradation.
Yet retired senator and parliamentarian Douglas Roche, the founding editor of the WCR, is still able to see beyond the headlines and speak about hope for the future.
In his new book Global Conscience, he argues that something is happening to lift up humanity. He speaks of an awakening of concern about how we human beings treat one another and how we can move the world forward to a new era of peace. "In fact, this new awareness of a global conscience is the great untold story of our time," Roche writes in his book.
"While it is true that a culture of fear surround us - turning many to cynicism and rendering others immobile - I urge readers to take a longer view."
Global Conscience stems from two of Roche's most recent books: The Human Right to Peace - which discusses ideas for a new culture of peace as advanced by the United Nations - and Beyond Hiroshima - which makes the case for the elimination of nuclear weapons as a precondition to peace in the 21st century.
A new caring
"The reason there has been any advance at all towards a culture of peace and curtailing nuclear weapons is that a new view of the human being, you and me, is coming into focus at the centre of public policy," he argues.
"A new caring for the wholeness of life is being defined. Humanity is learning to understand all our human relationships, our relationship with the earth, and how to govern for the common good. This is the stirring of a global conscience."
To be sure, wars are still being fought. Poverty is rampant throughout the developing world. The air and water are being despoiled. Greed and corruption continue to infect political processes. How can Roche talk about this new maturation of civilization when the world is still being dragged down by the same old problems?
"We have to be able to see past the problems of the day to observe a shift in human thinking," he argues in his 216-page book. "Many people are calling for a new global ethic to make the world a more human place."
The point Roche tries to develop in Global Conscience is that a new ethic is being formulated and he gives many examples throughout the book, beginning with familiar things such as the spread of anti-smoking laws, campaigns against drinking and driving, measures to cut down noise, concerns for people with disabilities and the drive to stop the exploitation of children.
These are all hallmarks of a greater outreach to ensure the well-being of others, he says. "There are reasons for hope."
Hope comes to Roche from his observations as advisor on disarmament to the Holy See and as chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative.
"It (also) comes from my faith, from my understanding that hope is something that has to be activated and from my knowledge that there is an upturn in civilization taking place," he said in an Oct. 9 interview from New York.
The pillars of human security are disarmament, development, environmental protection and the advancement of human rights. "In those four areas (which are dealt with in some length in the book), we do see ways in which the humanity is marching forward," Roche explained.
Citing many achievements such as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the treaty banning landmines, the International Criminal Court and the millennium development goals, Roche concludes that a global conscience keeps driving us to a world of greater care and mutual respect.
"Violence, war and greed still assault us, but the body of humanity, elevated in its spirit, mind and capacity to act, grows stronger," he says. "The stirring and movement of this body provide new hope for humanity."
Roche was recently named the winner of Newman Theological College's Kevin Carr Leadership Award. A luncheon in his honour will be held at the Petroleum Club on Nov. 13. Tickets are available from the college (447-2993).