Global is local | Editorial

Our goal at the Reporter is to publish news about the people and places and issues that matter to Islanders. It is not our mission to venture into global politics.

Islanders, however, have proven themselves eager to help people in need around the world, from the Lions providing eyeglasses to the poor of African nations to the Rotary sending wheelchairs to India and those who fanned out to help victims of Katrina or other disasters.

Just five miles away, Seattle University, a champion of social justice, is honoring Tun Channareth for his work toward an international treaty to ban land mines.

Nearly 100 Islanders attend classes at Seattle University. Among others, Islanders such as Adair Dingle, a member of the Mercer Island School District Board of Directors, and Le Xuan Hy, are on the faculty. It was Mr. Hy who was instrumental in bringing Mr. Channareth to Seattle and to Mercer Island.

Featured on our front page this week, Mr. Channareth of Cambodia, horribly injured by a land mine in 1982, will receive an honorary doctorate at Seattle University. But his mission here is not to ask for aid or honor, but for signatures in his quest to pressure world leaders to sign the treaty to ban land mines. Some 150 countries have signed on, but not the most important one: the United States.

There is plenty going on here at home with rising debt and unemployment, yet our fortunes are tied to what is happening throughout the globe. From tsunamis and nuclear accidents in Japan to E. coli outbreaks in Germany to the drug wars in Mexico and beyond, we feel the repercussions. This land mine disaster is more subtle; there are no pictures of miles of devastation, just anguish and poverty.

For decades now, Cambodia’s people who once farmed their lands have left for the cities. Even with just a grade school education, Mr. Channareth knows his country cannot move forward without full use of its land.

We would guess that a good portion of our readers remember the dark days of the Vietnam War, and the bombing of Cambodia ordered by our president, and the days of the Killing Fields that followed. Yes, that was a long time ago. For thousands, those days are still here.

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