It’s a timely reminder today, when much of the country is still in shock about the Malaysian airlines flight that went down over Ukraine. For months, there has been a growing awareness of this conflict, and an urge towards calm, towards dialogue, towards protecting civilians. Now, with this passenger jet going down, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, continues that urge towards calm, towards a fact based approach. He said on television his first priority is to make sure that the bodies of the Dutch passengers (more than half of those on board) are brought home, back to their families and loved ones. That is remembering humanity. That is keeping a focus on the very real and human element of this tragedy.
Every day there are deaths caused by accident or misdeed. This tragedy is another in a long series of painful and horrifying acts. This morning, ground troops started invading Gaza- that too will cause so many more families to mourn losses of sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and friends. We have forgotten our humanity, and focused on the rest.
I’m glued to my television, unable to turn away. Every time I see the shocked loved ones of those on board stoically walking through Schiphol (an airport I pass through every other week)d, their heads bowed, holding on to one another, my throat closes up, tears drip down my face, and I join countless others around the world and ask “why”.
There are different places people turn to for solace in times of trouble. Having spent most of my life working on nuclear weapons and inspired by others working to outlaw and eliminate the bomb, I turn to them.
In his Nobel lecture Josef Rotblatt quoted the Russell-Einstein manifesto and said “remember your humanity and forget the rest.” That lecture is a reminder that we, as humanity, have an obligation to our global survival. The lecture brings us back to the point- that we have loyalties to family, to community, to nation- but that with global threats – our loyalty must turn to our common humanity.
Today I join all those who mourn those who died in this tragedy, and I hope that we take this as a lesson that its time to remember our humanity, and forget the rest.