Thursday, December 25, 2008

Day 188: Principles of conscience

Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park, 2007

I'm currently reading Savage Dreams by Rebecca Solnit and within the first 15 pages have learned about the Nuremberg Principles for the first time in life (better late than never). Rebecca writes, "...the duty to commit civil disobedience is implicit in the international laws of the Nuremberg Principles, which signal the end of obedience as an adequate form of citizenship. The Nuremberg Principles are abstracted from the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals who justified their acts as following orders, a justification the world refused to accept".

She then singles out the fourth Principle in particular. I'll reproduce it here:

Principle IV The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

She then goes on to write, "The principles cover crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity; the testing of nuclear weapons violates all three. These principles remove us from the shelter of authority- of doing what we do because we are told to do it- and put us in the roofless territory of individual conscience."

Excellent food for thought for the new year arriving and in response to Tim DeChristopher's most admirable and boldly disobedient act in Utah earlier this week. It hasn't gotten much press, but is deserving of further acknowledgment:
"An environmental activist tainted an auction of oil and gas drilling leases Friday by bidding up parcels of land by hundreds of thousands of dollars without any intention of paying for them, a federal official said."- read more

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