Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Beating Heart Of Wisdom

I think it's truly inspirational that a mosque in York offered custard creams and tea to EDL supporters who came to stage a demonstration the other day. This is "Love Thy Neighbour" in the truest sense. Christians often annex this phrase as one of their own, although they would be quite wrong on this count. It's origins lie in multiple sources, perhaps most famously in the musings of Confucius several centuries before. Either way, whatever the source the principle is sound. Never repay violence for violence, hate for hate. All disagreement should be peaceable, lively, and armed with such qualities as irony, passion, humour, and a commitment to truth seeking. As I've often stated, the best of religion these days has to circumnavigate a lot of very nasty text which exists within the respective holy books themselves. Both the Koran and the Bible contain a lot of unsavoury instructions, ranging from the murder of children for verbal disobedience, to the rape of conquered females. The list is long and, well, pretty much consistent with the mindset of the civilisations of the time. During the latter part of the last millennia Christianity was subject to the enlightenment, an extended and robust critique which rendered its ugliest teachings redundant. Don't, by the way, ever listen to a Christian who states that Jesus had already done this. Utter rubbish; he very specifically endorsed every jot and tittle of the Old Law. No, the pressure came from the outside, and down the years Christianity has been thoroughly neutered and bought inline with progressive secular thinking, give or take some silliness over issues such as sexuality or abortion. Islam is in need of a similar reformation, and perhaps the response of those in York is some indication that the overwhelming majority of Muslims want no part in any violent jihad. As we speak there are some seeking to reform and re-interpret the texts to fit a new millennia, a new cultural zeitgeist. I wish these brave souls all the luck in the world. Wouldn't it be lovely if an Islamic enlightenment swept through all rank and file believers, cleansing them from the nastier edicts of the Koran. We are not there by any means, but I'm persuaded that the majority of Muslims want to live peaceably alongside those of other cultures. They want to raise children, pursue dreams, laugh and love and live and lead rich and vibrant lives. I want this for them as much as I want it for myself, but I understand that things take time to change. As you know, I don't have a whole lot of time for religion, yet I do defend the right of citizens to hold any views that do not come at the expense of others. I am critical of religious ideas, but I try not to make my critique personal. I know only too well that every person on earth shares a common ancestry; we're all part of the great human tide. If we can live together and hold separate views then I'm fine with that. My line in the sand is where the convictions of others threaten real harm to those of a different persuasion. I will stand alongside any Christian, any Muslim, and any atheist who values peaceful freedom of expression. And I hope that they would stand with me as I speak against anything that sought to steal this, erode this, or choke the air from its lungs.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

British And Proud

Details are emerging of a particularly nasty, and hopefully isolated terrorist attack by what appears to be radical Islamists. If the initial facts stand, then it would appear that the "Religion of peace" has struck again.
Well I say struck. In actual fact it has done little more than score another pathetic own goal, dropping its intellectual trousers and parading its microscopic genitalia for the world to see. Apparently Islam "Will never stop fighting us."
Crack on, I say. Continue with your ridiculous antics. But if you think for a moment that the people of Britain are going to capitulate then I think you're at a misapprehension. You see, we Brits, for all our faults, have been batting off fleas for as long as the history books record. Fringe groups, political organisations, religious loons; we've seen them come and go. Now to be sure, Islam is a particularly stupid brand of religious inanity, laced as it is with teachings both bizarre and ridiculous. I would want to go on record and laugh at this creed. And i mean belly laugh. Laugh until I cannot laugh anymore. And I suggest you do similar. We must strive not for violent revenge, but instead to mock and ridicule this daft little Bronze Age myth off the map. It makes good people believe stupid things, and gives bad people a fuse to live out their own crazed pathology.
Violence begets only violence. And violence is a form of self defeat. Ridicule, however. Ridicule and irony and humour, combined with the kind of steadfast resilience we Brits are famed for, well that's a fierce beast indeed.
So lets not be rendered afraid by the these strange men with their low IQ's and bizarre ideas. Lets not change our way of living or our routine. Lets just keep calm and carry on, as those mugs extol. Keep being Brits. Keep being brave, self effacing, resolute and united. Against such strength our foes will fall, or better still remove themselves elsewhere.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Flotsam On A Human Tide

Why be good?
This question isn't nearly as easy to answer as you might think. Yes I know we've laws and social expectations and all that, but when all is said and done what's stopping you from doing the countless things you secretly craved yet managed to deny yourself?
In a recent Facebook status I observed that I have Love/Hate relationship with my moral compass. It's kept me from doing all kinds of things over the years, things that could hurt me, hurt those I love. More often than not I listen to it begrudgingly, yet listen I do, and today I am reflecting why?
I don't want to hurt people. That's front and centre. But that still leaves vast oceans of potential for nefarious behaviour? But then does it? Perhaps every action has a consequence, a subtle or not so subtle effect on the world around us. Is there something in me that just prefers to live without excessive deception, that seeks genuineness and transparency wherever possible? Note; we all live with a certain degree of deception, and if you doubt this might I suggest you're, err, deceiving yourself? I have days when I'm pleasant on the outside only, when beneath the surface I'm a seething mass of unpleasant thoughts and ill will. On other days I'm the polar opposite, bursting with warmth and a desire for the happiness of others. What's that about? Hormones?Chemistry? Some conflicting residual evolutionary element?
I know that my distant ancestors were less troubled with the kind of moral finesse we grapple with. They of course had a kind of morality, but it was a blunter thing, more easily bypassed by our core urges. These are urges we've all still got, of course, but over the millennia the scales have shifted, and for the most part they override the voices of what some refer to as our inner chimp.
We have, to be sure, evolved. And whilst we can still be cruel, selfish, greedy, and brutish, society will leave us in no doubt as to what it thinks. Perhaps then, we're all kind of exerting a tacit pressure on each other? Perhaps were all flotsam on an evolutionary tide with a kind of rough awareness? So then, that suggests to me that morality cannot evolve in isolation. It has to be transactional, born out of how we interact with each other. Now I'm not saying that the world isn't still full of horrors spilling forth from every creed and culture. Yet we're still oddly bound by a shared humanity, a shared something that kindles us somehow. So even when I look at someone I disdain I could never justify causing them real harm; and in my case I choose not to interact with them, or to keep interaction to a minimum. I'd never wish them bodily harm, although I'm not beyond hoping that they might learn a few emotional lessons along the way. This blog is going to spiral if I keep going. I hope you can see what an odd and uneasy relationship we have with our moral compass. The sailing isn't plain, the waters often murky. How could it be otherwise?