This morning I watched President Obama’s speech to the United Nations. I think he did a pretty good job challenging the General Assembly to live up its own charter. He also refused to give-in to the anti-Israel lobby by threatening to veto a vote in the Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state. Unfortunately, he also added a few comments that were out of place and sounded more like political campaign rhetoric. He also praised the various uprisings in some Middle Eastern countries. My concern is that though the despots may be falling, we can’t be sure in long run what will replace them. Will Sharia Law take hold in countries like Egypt, Libya, or Tunisia?
Anyway, I couldn’t help but feel that the POTUS fails to understand, as do many western liberals, that he is speaking from a point of view that many of the UN nations don’t accept or even understand. Many of the rights and principles of freedom that we take for granted are just not recognized by many countries, even those who signed the UN Declaration of Human Rights. For instance, how many of the Islamic nations in the UN grant equal rights to women or minority religions? And how much freedom is allowed in those countries still under communist rule, like China, Cuba, Viet Nam, or especially North Korea? It’s almost a joke to think they would actually take human rights seriously.
This demonstrates in a practical way how worldview can affect a country’s culture and politics. It is no coincidence that those countries steeped in Theistic Christian worldview traditions developed the freest systems in the world today. They also had great influence on others from non-Christian cultures. For example, when we look at the history of the British Empire and Commonwealth we are impressed how many of the nations that stood under British rule in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries are now free and democratic republics (e.g.: India- which has primarily a Far Eastern Thought worldview).
Likewise those nations which are the greatest violators of human rights generally have cultures based on worldviews that do not reflect a Christian tradition. Most notorious are the Islamic nations, which, though having a Theistic perspective, reject the historic and biblical principles of respect for all persons. For instance, just consider the women’s rights record of Saudi Arabia, a country we regard as an ally.
I won’t even bother to examine the human rights record of communism. Perhaps no system of government and economics has caused more death and suffering than has that one sprung from the brain of Karl Marx. Its worldview is of course Naturalism, which has really no basis for human value since we are just highly evolved biological machines.
So then, while I think President Obama means well, I fear that he (as did his predecessor) is naively hoping that the countries of the UN will all stand together to usher in a time of peace and harmony. I think it was ironic that just as President Obama finished his speech the TV cameras showed radical Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entering the building. So much for a “United Nations”.
ADDENDUM: Thurs. 9/22/11
I just heard a speech to the UN by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The US delegation along with several others walked out during this presentation. Actually Ahmadinejad did not say very much he has not said before. He once again blamed the United States, Europe and the “Zionist State” (Israel) for the all problems of the world. He also accused the US of using what he called “mysterious September 11 incident” to expand its power in the Middle East and implied it was a Zionist plot.
Most significant, he once again reminded (or perhaps warned) the countries of the world of the soon to come reappearance of the Hidden 12th Imam – the Mahdi – of the “Twelvers” sect of Shiite Islam. The “Twelvers” believe that in the last days the Hidden Imam will return to destroy the enemies of Islam and establish peace on earth under Islamic rule. They believe, however, that before that can happen there will be a great conflagration where much of the world will be thrown into a great war. This is one reason why it is of great concern if Iran gets nuclear weapons. They may believe they are destined to initiate that war against Islam’s enemies (especially Israel).
Once again we are presented with evidence that worldviews matter.