n India and all over the world, billions of people will today remember the legendary Mahatma Gandhi on the 67th anniversary of his assassination by a Hindu fanatic who opposed Gandhi’s vision for inter-religious dialogue and unity in diversity. Among the hundreds of gems of Gandhi’s wisdom that is inspiring generations is his saying, that the world will know peace on the day that the power of love overrules the love of power.
Though Gandhi was killed, the spirit and vision of one of the greatest human beings in modern history, unlike the Jayalalithaas and hundreds of other political leaders, who claim they come to serve but eventually plunder the people’s wealth and resources, Mahatma Gandhi lived in a simple and humble way, rejecting any powerful posts, privileges or perks though India’s leaders were known to consult him on important issues. Because he chose to be humble and simple, history has exalted him to be among the most revered and respected leaders in the world.
On this Gandhi Day we wish to focus on his dream to bring forth global religious wisdom which many thinkers see as the only solution to an international nightmare and a breakdown in the worldwide rule of law as seen in the crises including the Islamic State (ISIS), Ukraine and the Ebola pandemic.
In a speech published in our sister newspaper, the Sunday Times, Judge C.G. Weeramantry who may justifiably be seen as Sri Lanka’s Gandhi said the world had bungled the 19th century, bungled the 20th century and with 14 years gone in the 21st century, the signs of the times show there may be no other century unless we repent and turn around.
Judge Weeramantry, a former Senior Vice President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and one of the most respected Sri Lankan personalities, sounded the warning at an international religious summit held in the South Korean Capital of Seoul. The Summit, attended by leaders of more than 10 religions and several former or current Heads of State or Government, included a public meeting at the Seoul Olympic Stadium where some 100,000 people gathered for the occasion and a peace march.
According to Judge Weeramantry global religious wisdom enriches international law and can prevent annihilation of the world. The purpose of the international religious summit was to emphasise the urgency of our moving towards one world of all humanity dedicated to peace and justice.
Judge Weeramantry said it was important to restore the connection between global religious wisdom and international law, which had been broken during the religious wars of the 17th century. He also stressed the need to rebuild this linkage as every major principle of international law could derive support from the teachings of all religions.
The theme of Justice Weeramantry’s talk was peace on earth and the role that religions could play in taking humanity towards this goal. According to him, if the teachings of the religions are followed, humanity will find itself on the high road to global peace, which has been humanity’s dream since civilization began.
Unfortunately, these teachings have been grossly violated over the centuries. The world today has weapons, a single one of which surpasses, in atrocity and destructive power, all weapons used in World Wars l and ll combined. The danger to the human future is thus greater than ever before in human history.
Judge Weeramantry said while the danger signals were flashing and the problems in the world were growing, we had not realised that a solution was at hand.
That solution was to work out a set of principles of international conduct which every country accepted and would be binding not through the force of arms, but through its own compelling moral authority.
“For too long has war been a part of the human condition. We cannot afford to let this continue any longer. We all have a role to play. The answer to our difficulties and problems is before us. Let us grasp it, make use of global religious wisdom which is the birth-right of all world citizens, enrich our relationships with each other and ensure a better world for future generations whose welfare is our sacred trust”, Justice Weeramantry said in a prophetic plea for people of goodwill to come together and restore peace on earth.