Being human is so damn hard…

Just when you think you have things all figured out, you soon realize that you don’t. Or worse still – that you probably never will…

We formulate our opinions on life based on the quantity and quality of the information we receive, or allow ourselves to receive in the absence of any inhibiting factors such as censorship. However we may also be prone to wilfully self-censor because of inculcated beliefs, ideologies and even prejudices, which off course leads to the formulation of rubbish opinions.

Let’s assume that in most cases censorship is non-existent or very limited, which would mean that our opinions are limited in their [truth]value only by the paucity of information available and our own inherent limitations in comprehending and reasoning, or by wilful ignorance.

In either case most people who formulate opinions on life should be assumed to have good intentions. Or at least, that’s how I’d like to assess all humans.

So, as of last week I thought I had the Libyan situation all figured out. There was a leader ruthlessly killing his own people, behaving like a madman…or so most of the media reports and opinion pieces published, led you to believe. Having a strong respect for the sanctity of life and an aversion to genocidal tendencies, I supported the UN measures to impose a NO-FLY ZONE in Libya and the subsequent military action that followed. My argument in support was based strongly on Objective Morality.

However, with new information available this week, I realise that maybe the whole decision to intervene militarily in Libya may have been wrong. And while I concede that the intentions of the ring-leaders the USA, Britain and France in formulating that decision, may have been somewhat honourable, is in fact very wrong on many other levels. I now have to concede that the net bad that will result, outweighs any good that can be gleaned from this whole wretched affair.

Off course, I may have gotten it all wrong once again. It’s so tough being human…so much easier being a politician!

Maybe Censorship Should be Banned

I recently came across a link to a site where Philip Pullman, author of Northern Lights, better known as The Golden Compass (adapted into a film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig), discusses how his book was challenged by various, mainly religious bodies, who demanded it be banned from the public library. Apparently, this bunch of ignorant theists deemed the book to be anti-religious.

Phillip goes on to recount how a group called the Catholic League objected to the release of the film which did result in bad box office takings, but sales of his book went up quite significantly. Even a bishop from La Crosse County, Jerome Listecki, warned Catholics not to see the film, ludicrously claiming that the movie was just “the first part of a trilogy that expresses hatred of Christianity and that portrays God, the church and religion as evil and oppressive, and urges children to join fallen angels in a rebellion against God.”

The Golden Compass is not the first book to attract such a vicious and absurd backlash from the religious hate-mongers, nor will it be the last. The successful Harry Potter series of novels has attracted disdain from the lunatic religious fringe in recent times, and don’t forget the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight’s Children and the Satanic Verses. This kind of dark ages mentality is indicative of the lengths that the religious wing nuts are prepared to resort to, in defense of a severely discredited and hate-filled dogma known mundanely as religion.

Phillip Pullman quite correctly points out that the “inevitable result of trying to ban something – book, film, play, pop song, whatever – is that far more people want to get hold of it than would ever have done if it were left alone.” This simple fact however will not stop the lunatics from trying. Although all progressive (mostly democratic) countries propagate free speech, religions in these countries, enjoys unwarranted protection from being criticised. And it gets worse. These same self-appointed “keepers of morality” demand the right to decide what should be published, what should be censored, even what is taught in schools. In reality, even statistics show that those who proclaim to be the most religious are invariably the most corrupt and immoral.

Phillip sums it up quite nicely as follows:

“In fact, when it comes to banning books, religion is the worst reason of the lot. Religion, uncontaminated by power, can be the source of a great deal of private solace, artistic inspiration, and moral wisdom. But when it gets its hands on the levers of political or social authority, it goes rotten very quickly indeed. The rank stench of oppression wafts from every authoritarian church, chapel, temple, mosque, or synagogue – from every place of worship where the priests have the power to meddle in the social and intellectual lives of their flocks, from every presidential palace or prime ministerial office where civil leaders have to pander to religious ones.”

“My basic objection to religion is not that it isn’t true; I like plenty of things that aren’t true. It’s that religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good.”