Hamid Karzai: 'Uphold Our Common Humanity'

The class that began college in September 2001 must always remember the moral imperatives of today's world.

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I urge you to discover how moral imperative must also drive our actions even when there are no economic or political motives. I believe in a redefinition of the prevailing notion of national interest on the basis of fundamental moral premise is the way forward to our common future.

Of all, it is our humanity that ultimately brings us together while the pursuit of narrow interests divides us all. My appeal to you as the leaders of tomorrow, as people who will be in the position to make decisions of consequences, is to allow morality and the sense of fundamental concern for humanity guide your decisions.

When you see on the news or read in the newspaper that so many people were killed in places far away, do not let these numbers become mere abstractions to you. These are real people, like you and I. They are families, friends; they have pain, they have grief. We must not turn away when we hear the cries of the hungry. We must not stand by when we see the killing and terrorizing of the innocent. We should not wait until hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of our fellow human beings have died as occurred in Afghanistan, before we act. Every time we ignore the suffering of others or stand by and watch, we do not only act against our own interests but we violate a part of our humanity. And we do not have to wait for our governments to save people from misery because it will be just too late for many. As individuals, we can make a difference as well.

Not too long ago I watched a documentary filmed by the BBC of the British artist, Bob Geldof, which told the story of the famine in Ethiopia two decades ago, and that day, I really felt ashamed of myself as a human being. I watched on that documentary helpers-humanitarian workers-picking up children of two years of age or three years of age or four or five years of age who had the chance to survive, to feed them, leaving the others to die because there was no food.


Is that the world we want to leave for our future? No. I urge you to stop and work against that kind of a world.

One can feel but a sense of utter despair as a human being when one sees human misery at an appalling scale. Bob Geldof was one individual whose concern for humanity saved thousands of children in Ethiopia. His benevolence was not simply an act of charity but a fundamental step to draw people from corners of the world for the common cause of humanity. In a different context, the coming together of the world is demonstrated in Afghanistan today where people from more than 50 countries with different cultures and faiths, different religions, are working together to build our country and uproot terrorism. This remarkable convergence of civilizations in Afghanistan has rekindled our hopes as the people of Afghanistan, secured our lives, and unleashed our energies to rebuild our war-shattered country. Thanks to that help, and our people's determination, today, Afghanistan is a free country.

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President Hamid Karzai
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