As part of the Carnegie Council Centennial Thought Leaders Forum, Carnegie Council's Devin Stewart spoke with Hawa Abdi, a Somalian human rights activist and doctor, specializing in gynecology. She founded the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation and also founded one of the largest internally displaced persons camps in Somalia.
DEVIN STEWART: Looking at the world today, how would you describe the world we live in, particularly from an ethical perspective?
HAWA ABDI: If we try to educate our people, everything will be okay. If we educate them and show them justice, I think, the world will be the best.
DEVIN STEWART: And when you look at the world, how would you describe the world today?
HAWA ABDI: Now we know each other, there is globalization—that is a good thing. Today, especially the United States is trying to globalize the world, to know everything that is going on, and that is good for our planet.
DEVIN STEWART: Why is that good?
HAWA ABDI: Because, all over the world people will get to know each other, and now there is modern education so that every place can know each other, all the planet can easily understand, can know what is going on. That is very good because there will be no more remote areas.
DEVIN STEWART: So what are the implications of knowing one another? Do you mean that life becomes more just or fair, or what do you see?
HAWA ABDI: More easy, more understandable, as more people know each other and what is going on in our planet. If we continue in this world like this, it will be a better place, I think.
DEVIN STEWART: You talked about your understanding of ethics. Do you think that there is a global ethic?
HAWA ABDI: We cannot be separated. The world is one. Humanity is one. And if the world is one, if something happens in some place, it will spread immediately to another corner, so we have to be always together to know each other. Our awareness must be global. At least if there is something bad happening, we have to stop it, or we know it will spread all over the world. That is why I like globalization; I like to know the people on the planet and what is going on in this world.
DEVIN STEWART: What would you say is the biggest challenge in the world today?
HAWA ABDI: I think the ethical question of our time is pluralism. We need to get justice all over the world, so that there will be no fighting, no conflict.
DEVIN STEWART: And what would you like to see happen in the future?
HAWA ABDI: Hate must be eliminated. We have to change hate to love. And we have to help poor people.
DEVIN STEWART: How do you see leadership? What does leadership mean to you?
HAWA ABDI: Leadership for me leads to a dangerous road. Leadership needs to be frank and friendly.
DEVIN STEWART: We’re also looking at the idea of world peace. Do you believe world peace to be possible?
HAWA ABDI: Yes, it is possible. It is possible if we find justice. There is injustice and that is why there is no peace. If people are fair and friendly and frank, there will be peace all over the world. Because why is there fighting? Because someone has an advantage. If there is this advantage, we will never be equal in this world. That is why there is conflict—injustice.
DEVIN STEWART: Thank you. How would you inspire people to make the world a better place?
HAWA ABDI: We, all over the world, people, we, human beings, we have to understand each other. We are all the same people in this world, on the same planet, so we have to respect each other, we have to love each other. We have to throw out hate. So we have to help each other, and then this world will be peaceful, and we will love each other. Everywhere people will hug whenever they see each other. I think that.
DEVIN STEWART: Dr. Abdi, thank you so much for your time.