25 June 2014

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein’s prayer

The United Nations General Assembly on Monday has unanimously approved Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan as the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, succeeding Navi Pillay of South Africa. Zeid is not filling big shoes. He’s filling strange shoes but that should not worry him because those who step into those shoes have a long history of slicing off toes and shaving heals. The shoes are US made, truth be told. Indeed, more often than not the US manages to find a Cinderella for whom the shoe is a perfect fit. But in a parallel universe Zeid can have a mind of his own and that mind can think. In a thinking mind thoughts bleed into words and words come together as prayer. Here is his.

‘Let me have courage. Let me have wisdom. Let me have the wisdom to separate fact from fiction. Let me have the wisdom to see agenda and preference in words that are uttered in shrill or ominous voices. Let me have the courage and good sense to tell myself every morning that the UN is made of member states and each voice of each name has equal worth. Let me have the humility to ask myself every night whether I’ve remembered this fact throughout my working hours.

‘Let me have a million eyes so that I will not only see what some people want me to see and so I will not miss that which some people don’t want me to see. Let me not be selective in vision or word. Let me have the wisdom to shave of frills, whether they come as crystallized sugar or as congealed drops of blood, so that I can obtain the true dimensions of incident and process.

‘Let me have patience. Let me not rush to judge. Let me have the wisdom, when appointing advisors to check credentials and let me have the wisdom to detect conflict of interest so that prejudice will not color the result of assessment or advice or other conclusions. 

‘Let me not be so foolish as to fire off ominous missives and veiled threats at the drop of a hat. Let me not be so foolish, moreover, not to make mountains out of molehills and worse see certain molehills and be blind to mountains, so that I will not confuse the two.

‘Let me have the courage to call tyrant a tyrant and the sense of justice to ask tyrant that points finger at tyrant, “a friend in deed?”

‘Let me find time to read up on history and political economy so I can discern both pattern and contradiction and thereby question the moral authority of finger pointers. 

‘Let me understand the truth that there are no bloodless wars. Let me tell myself over and over again that nowhere in the history of humankind has there ever been a hostage rescue operation concerning several hundred thousands of people held hostage by terrorists. Let me ask myself again and again which government, if so intent on genocide, provided enemy with food and medicine, and risked and lost thousands of personnel to rescue “enemy”.

‘Let me have the wisdom and courage to resist being a pawn of anyone or anything except the need to uphold human rights at all times in all places. Let me have the wisdom and the sense of justice to never forget that no life is less valuable than another life.

‘Let me resist the urge to take the word of particularly powerful and wealthy section of global media as biblical truth and instead understand that opinion, like consent, is frequently manufactured. 

‘In practical terms let me start where the rot starts and concentrate on the biggest violators of human rights this planet has known, namely the United States of America and its allies, Britain included. In this, let me investigate, first and foremost the unwarranted invasion of Iraq which Britain admits was illegal and the so-called “war on terror”. Let me not be fooled by do-gooders who fire missiles and carry out drone attacks claiming they are doing so for the good of the recipients. Let me not be fooled either by soft words like “democracy”, “peace” and “justice” because I know that horrendous crimes against humanity have been perpetrated in the name of such things.

‘Let me have the courage tell my predecessor to take her shoes with her as she leaves office.’



Anonymous said...


Shaik Ahamath said...

He should also pray to let him have the courage to criticise his paymasters and their allies whenever the occasion arises.

Ambrose said...

In other words "we are as pure as the driven snow and all beings are truly happy in this peaceful island. So don't you dare find fault with us".....yer right!!!

Malinda Seneviratne said...

'in other words'? No. Your words, not mine. :)