One of the things that I like most about Stamp Collecting is the manner in which mail is sent around the world. The Universal Postal Union is an organisation of truly heroic standing.
The fact that I can send a letter from Dublin to the Dear Leader of the Democratic Republic of Korea and it wont be opened by anyone in the Irish Security services is remarkable. It is just one of the many good reasons for being a citizen of a neutral country.
Unfortunately Chairman Kim never wrote back to me. Or perhaps he did….I live in “Northern Ireland” so maybe the British intercepted it. Who knows?
The point is that for the most part, mail sent around the world generally gets thru to its destination.
Ireland is or was unique. A European country which was a colony of an evil Empire. This has given the Irish nation an ethos that is both part of western Europe AND gives us an insight into the post-colonial problems in (say) Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor and Lebanon. As such, Irish army personnel are acceptable peacekeepers in these nations and almost one hundred have lost their lives serving on United Nations Peacekeeping Missions.
Neutrality is of course honourable. Ireland like Netherlands, Norway and United States of America was neutral in the Second World War. Now you might say that I am wrong and that these countries played a major part in the defeat of Germany and Japan. Yes that’s true but these countries only entered the war when they were attacked.
Neutrality does not mean that we cannot make judgements. For example, Russia has waged war on Ukraine and it is 99.99% certain that Russia is responsible for the poisoning of a former-spy, his daughter and a police officer In England two weeks ago.
Sanctions have been imposed………as indeed sanctions have been applied to PDR Korea, Iran and other nations.
It is generally accepted that sanctions imposed on the minority government of South Africa in the 1970s led to the fall of that evil regime.
The problem with sanctions is that it is a blunt instrument which disproportionately affects poorer people. And does not just affect supporters of the regime.
For example back in 1975, would I have been wrong to engage in trading stamps with a collector in South Africa because of the governments racism? Would I be wrong to trade postcards with a collector in Israel because of that country’s illegal settlements in Palestine? Would I be wrong to trade stamps with a collector in Saudi Arabia because of their sexism and anti-Semitism? Would I be wrong to trade stamps and postcards with a collector in Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine, the war in Syria or the attempted murder of folks in England?
Obviously the individual may or may not support their government. And plainly as a liberal, I respect that people are entitled to hold views different from my own …providing of course they are within generally accepted limits.
I was looking thru some postcards that I received from Russian folks thru PostCrossing and Facebook. As well as seeing postally used stamps on mail, the great thing about postcards is that they offer an insight into life in another country.
What struck me was that in some cases, the postcards showed the military might of Russia and back in 2014 when I received them this seemed like harmless chauvinism. But in 2018, they look a little sinister.
The random trading of mail across the world is a good thing. Previously we could not make judgements. And probably that was a more innocent time.
But the Internet has given us an opportunity (if we want it) to look at potential trading partners before we post off 50 stamps or a postcard. It is a bad sign if a Russian profile features Vladimir Putin. It is a very bad sign if an Israeli profile features Benjamin Netanyahu and the person has an address in Palestinian territory.
And the United States….if a stamp collector has a pic of himself with a red “Make America Great Again”, or a National Rifle Association bumper sticker or a Confederate flag….then he or she is not likely to be a person with whom I can trade stamps and postcards.
It is not a question of nationality or politics. It is a question of morality.
Is that reasonable of me?
Meanwhile, I look at my mail every day to see if Chairman Kim has sent me a nice postcard from PDR Korea.