Stewardship and Ethics in World Heritage

What is Stewardship and Ethics?

Before we get into anything in this blog, we must first define and understand what is stewardship and ethics. Without a strong understanding of these two words, this blog may not seem significant at all. So without further rambling,  stewardship is the activity of protecting and being responsible for something, while ethics are rules of behavior on ideas about what is morally good and bad (Merriam-Webster). These two go hand in hand, because a person or group of people must know what is ethically right to do while they are protecting what they believe in.  Based on these definitions it is fair to conclude that these two words are very relevant to world heritage. There are some parts of world heritage that may seem subjective to certain people, but people in fields that are related to world heritage believe it should be objective. What I mean by this is that some people don’t really care much for other people’s heritage, because, well, it is not their own, but it is very important to respect other’s heritage.

Why is it Important to Respect Other People’s Heritage?

What happens when people are inconsiderate of other's heritage

What happens when people are inconsiderate of other’s heritage

In the picture above you can see the immoral destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas.  The Taliban destroyed the Buddhas because they were seen as idols to them, but for the native people of the Bamyan valley, this is a very important part of there heritage. This is a perfect example of subjective views. Everybody in the world can not agree on everything, but we can respect other people’s views. The Taliban did not have to blow up the statues just because they disagreed with the people there, they could have simply ignored the statues and respect the Bamyan people’s wishes to have the statues there.  This is why it is important to respect people’ heritage, because things like this happen. Now the people of the Bamyan valley are demoralized, when they were already in a bad state. The question now is whether or not to rebuild the Buddhas, and this is what the governor of the Bamyan Valley, Dr. Habiba Sarabi, must decide.

Dr. Habiba Sarabi must decide on whether or not to rebuild the Buddhas.

Dr. Habiba Sarabi must decide on whether or not to rebuild the Buddhas.

This is not the only example of what can go wrong when other people do not respect other’s heritage. 

The Looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad

Just about a week ago marks the anniversary of the unethical looting of the Iraq museum in Baghdad.  On April 10, 2003 a terrible event shocked the whole world. During three days, and nights many priceless artifacts from the deemed cradle of civilization were looted from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.  Dr. Donny George Youkhanna, the former director of the Iraq Museum, saw the results of the looting  first hand. He explains how all the documents were on the floor, all of the equipment were stolen, it was “as if a Hurricane hit the museum.” The things that they could not steal, they devilishly smashed. 

Picture of Looting

Picture of Looting

However, the most dreadful thing they did was destroying the archaeological sites. These things are artifacts that will be lost forever. The future children of Iraq would not be able to see part of their heritage. They can not buy these things again, or make replicas of them, it is simply gone forever. A huge portion of the Iraqi heritage is gone. This was not a fair thing to do to the people. This is another reason why it is extremely important to respect other people’s heritage.

Broken sculpture from Hatra

Broken sculpture from Hatra

Umma Archaeological Site Gone

Umma Archaeological Site Gone

My Thoughts…

The destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas and the looting of the Iraq museum were both terrible examples when humans completely throw ethics and stewardship out of play. In everything we do, ethics must come in play, but this of course would never happen. Some people do think that their way is right, and this is why things like this happen, and I truly believe it is unavoidable. Almost everything in this world is subjective, meaning that what may be important to me may not be important to you. One’s man terrorist is another man’s hero.

Terrorist ?

How does it Effect You?

These two examples are from a whole world different from ours, but they do affect us. It comes back to the idea of treating your neighbors how you will want to be treated. What if something like this happened to sites in America? My question to you (if you are reading this), do you think it is important to respect other people’s heritage? Or do you think that if it doesn’t affect you directly you shouldn’t care? Or are you completely indifferent to this subject. Thank you for reading and peace.

Peace

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22 Responses to Stewardship and Ethics in World Heritage

  1. olayinkaoredola says:

    What you guys think about this blog?

  2. I’m more surprised we are both awake, but I find it very relevant. I like how you tackled the moral side of these unfortunate examples of destruction. While they were heavily damaged, it boils down to a choice made by the people.

  3. This is very disturbing to know that someone would do something like this to a cultures heritage. Those were things that can never be replaced and that’s devastating to know that it will never be shown to future generations.

  4. rstadnitskiy says:

    I appreciate how you specifically defined what stewardship and ethics is at the start. I think you make a good point and I was unaware of some of these tragic incidences.

  5. olayinkaoredola says:

    Yea, I thought it was important to note what they were first, to understand how tragic these events truly where.

  6. masonanderson says:

    “One’s man terrorist is another man’s hero.” Yes the world is subjective to the perspectives one has, but the destruction of others cultural property is not heroic in any way.

  7. I really like the style in how you wrote your blog. To me, I think that people should respect other people’s heritage even though it might not directly affect us. Everyone should be open-minded and culturally acceptable.

  8. I really like the style in how you wrote your blog. To me, I think that people should respect other people’s heritage even though it might not directly affect us. Everyone should be open-minded and culturally acceptable.

  9. rolmos3 says:

    I feel that the destruction of another groups heritage is wrong, and even though its been constantly done even outside the examples you gave that it should not be done.

    • olayinkaoredola says:

      Yup, but for the most part there is a motive behind the destruction. It is usually not just mindless violence, but the people behind the destruction usually have a reason. For example, in Bamiya the Taliban thought the Buddhas were idols thus going against their religion.

  10. mbaldwin3 says:

    I completely agree with you, a lot of the acts are subjective. I think everyone should mind their own business, but it won’t happen anytime soon. Good blog.

  11. jmelendez2 says:

    It is very horrible that sites like this are destroyed senselessly even the religious implications are simply a facade to demonstrate power.

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