Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Do no evil

I have especially fond memories of the fall of the Berlin wall, because I was studying German in high school at the time. The collapse of the Soviet Union that followed was a profound and fundamental change to the lives of many hundreds of millions of people - and a beacon of hope to many millions more who still live in the undemocratic and totalitarian regimes around the world. I have been fortunate to make friends with a number of people from countries that were on the other side of the wall - an impossibility for most of the West in the generation prior to mine.

What has been disheartening since then is the loss of the ability and faith of democratic states, especially the leaders of those states, in the fundamental and profound truth in the strength of democracy and preservation of human rights. This has been felt most keenly in the abrogation of these universal rights for a minority - even as a terrorist or mass murderer, you should still be entitled to a fair trial, and just treatment - a necessity many have forgotten.

The failure of state actors to uphold these necessary rights has meant in many instances, non governmental organisations have stepped in the breach. When we say NGO, we typically think of a volunteer or charitable organisation, but there is nothing prohibiting a for profit business making the same decisions and potentially the same contributions.

I would like to thank the US based executives of Google for their brave decision to take the moral high ground for the rights of the few - a decision, though unlikely, may help lead to another wall falling.

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