Nice guys these Quakers

Featured

Quaker_star

Yesterday I came across an article in a local online newspaper about how a group of Quakers are helping the LGBTQ community flee Uganda’s absurd and outrageous Anti-Homosexuality Act. What’s more, I got to learn a lot about the Quaker community, otherwise known as the Religious Society of Friends (didn’t know that either).

Like the Amish community, Quakers are fervently religious and believe very strongly in non-violence. However whereas The Amish are very conservative and don’t adapt to change, Quakers are pretty liberal and embrace modern technology. Another thing, Quakers don’t have priests or clergymen and eschew religious symbolism, and for that alone this atheist is warming up to them.

But here’s why I think they’re simply awesome: Quakers are involving themselves in a dangerous activity by helping people escape persecution. And they’ve done it before; many times.

Quakers denounced slavery as early as the 1670’s in Barbados. Later they would play a fundamental role in abolishing slavery in the United States. They were also involved in setting up the Underground Railroad in the USA which helped runaway slaves.

It was therefore fitting that the group based in Olympia, Washington, assisting people escape the bigotry and persecution as a result of the draconian law passed by the Ugandan government, decided to call themselves Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR).

However not everyone likes what they’re doing; even right’s activists and NGO’s within the LGBTQ community have their reservations, but I think it’s just remarkable.

Meanwhile Ugandan activists, and right’s organizations like Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) who incidentally are critical of what FNUR are doing, are petitioning the courts to overturn the anti-gay law. I sincerely hope they’re succesful. The world does not need legislated hatred.

Advertisements

When humans put their beliefs before their humanity

faith

A few specific incidents recently, the general occurrence of which has been going on for a long time, has left me in no doubt that we humans value our ideological beliefs more than we value human life.

I take it for granted that everyone is capable of kindness, love, compassion and goodwill towards other human beings. But it plagues me that humans can and will without hesitation abandon all of this when certain of our beliefs are challenged.

And it seems to me the most culpable belief that humans will defend, with total disregard to cost and consequence, is religious in nature. And the greatest cost is life off course.

Boko Haram (figuratively meaning “Western education is sin”) is an Islamic terrorist organization which has been laying siege to Northeastern Nigeria since 2002, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 10 000 people (quite possibly much more). At the most basic level, they kill innocent people to further their insane religious ideology. Recently they kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls whom they still hold captive, although reports indicate some have been sold into slavery or as child brides.

The fate of these schoolgirls is still uncertain, while the politicians vacillate. Which off course is quite normal for politicians. Political chicanery easily has the same disastrous effect as religious ideology, and indeed, when the State and Organized Religion conspire together, it usually ends in tragedy.

Take Sudan for instance. It is one of a growing number of countries (especially in Africa and the Middle East) that have no qualms about persecuting and even killing its citizens, to satisfy (invariably misunderstood) religious edicts. In Uganda, you will face imprisonment or even death for being of the “wrong” sexual orientation. Wrong is decided through belief, inspired by archaic religious text.  In both countries the politicians have no problem agitating its citizens who harbor demented religious beliefs, into tormenting, even killing those who even vaguely seem at odds with said beliefs.

Only recently Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a pregnant Sudanese women who has just given birth in prison, was sentenced to death (but not before receiving a 100 lashes as well) for apostasy. Her crime was to fall in love with a Christian man. It is an exercise in futility pointing out to these demented ideologues that a benevolent God would not take kindly to such an insane act of pettiness. They would probably stone you to death.

Which was exactly the fate of Farzana Iqbal of Pakistan. Farzana whilst also pregnant, was stoned to death by members of her own family, including her own father for marrying the man she loved rather than the one her family had chosen for her. Honour killings are the direct result of ideological beliefs, most likely rooted in culture and religion. And that opens up another can of worms…

Culture and tradition can be as bad as religious beliefs, and quite often is. It is quite sad that in the modern scientific world, archaic cultural beliefs can still hold sway over abundant evidence to the contrary. In some societies, any or all activity that is at odds with cultural norm, can get you hurt or killed.

What will these purveyors of insane belief systems do if they eventually manage to wipe the rest of us off the face of the earth (not likely, but worth considering)? Will they then turn on each other? Will the purveyors of the surviving (insane) belief system then sit back and twiddle their thumbs, waiting for the rapture (or similar curious belief)?

Will the God that you believe in, accept them into heaven ( or similar curious belief)? Do you still think such a God is good?

Hine Ma Tov

I was at a delightful Israeli friend’s post-voting party yesterday, and remembered to ask her about a song that I’d always loved since watching the film Raid On Entebbe many many years ago.

The film is based on the real-life hijacking of an Air France plane with more than 100 Israeli citizens on board, by members of the Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine, and the subsequent successful mission by the Israeli Defense Force to rescue them at Entebbe Airport in Uganda.

The song Hine Ma Tov was sung by the soldiers on the airplane en route to Entebbe to free the hostages who were being held at the airport with the support of then dictator Idi Amin. The only video I could manage to find is not of good sound quality, but wait until about 20 seconds when the commandos get into full rhythm. It’s just beautiful.

The Hebrew lyrics are taken from the final verse of Psalm 133, and is popular at Jewish feasts.

Hine(y) ma tov u’ma-nayim

Shevet ach-im gam ya-chad

It translates more or less into something that is quite wonderful and sorely needed in the world today.

Behold how good

and how pleasing

if brothers (people) could sit together in unity.

Peace, out!

Lout of Africa 2

mugabe1

It didn’t take very long for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to jump on the Museveni gay-bashing bandwagon.

It now seems likely that he’ll follow suit by instituting a witchhunt against homosexuality in Zimbabwe that will rival, if not outdo the despicable new legislation enacted by Museveni in Uganda. And how’s this statement for gross irony?

It’s a terrible world we are in, a terrible world where people want to do things that they feel will enhance their own interests.

Oh yes, you baboon’s ass, it is indeed a terrible world we live in; one darkened by bigots and tyrants such as you and Museveni.

Back In Uganda

Meanwhile the Ugandan Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali has threatened the mother church in England with breaking away if they exert any pressure on Uganda to overturn the recent anti-homosexual laws.

This homophobic bible-bashing cretin believes that the Anglican mother church should respect the Ugandan’s views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Respect? Bigoted clergymen don’t deserve respect; they deserve nothing but derision.

In fact, I sincerely hope that the Anglican mother church boots these fucktards out.

Lout of Africa

Gay-Poster

I really didn’t think this waste of a human life would go ahead with it. But he did.

In yet another infamous day on the African continent, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda signed into law a bill that could (and most likely will) imprison for life anyone convicted of (repeat?) homosexuality. The law goes further in requiring that heterosexuals denounce anyone suspected of homosexuality, effectively demanding that ordinary citizens become spies for the government, which brings back horrifying recollections from history of how this was abused in Medieval Europe and during the Salem witch trials. No doubt the keepers of the law will find ways to “deal” with those who refuse to out homosexuals.

I don’t have to defend my position to all good people who are upholders of basic human rights, but neither am I going to attempt to convince those who find this reprehensible act of cowardice and bigotry justifiable. You are simply not good people, no matter how much conviction, solace and comfort you find in your archaic religious texts. If you really must know why this is so reprehensible, read this journalists column here.

This law isn’t just bad and evil on a purely discriminatory level, but is an indictment on Africa, Africans and the state of leadership on this continent. Africa is telling the world that it simply refuses to move forward to a progressive world order, preferring to indulge antiquated customs, traditions and contracted thinking. In short African leaders insist on reminding the world that it will live up to its label of the “Dark Continent.”

While it would be fitting if the US and the EU makes good the threat to impose harsh economic sanctions on Uganda, it would only adversely affect the ordinary citizens of this country, because the fat cats in government such as Museveni and that ghastly excuse for a human, Simon Lokodo with the pompous title of Minister for Integrity and Ethics, will still be able to live it up at the expense of the people.

Meanwhile to add to the ignominy that this day has spawned, almost due South in Zimbabwe, another shameful specimen in the form of Robert Mugabe, used his 90th birthday celebrations to launch into a tirade (as he does annually on his birthday) against homosexuality. Why this arrogant little tyrant cares about such things at his age is truly baffling.

In all of this, the silence from the so-called leaders in my own country (South Africa) is deafening and ominous. Is this a sign of things heading our way too?

The year of dressing dangerously

Over the years there were probably many isolated incidences around the world where a person’s dress, appearance and style of living attracted unwanted attention from a few loons, mostly from one type of religious persuasion or the other. But in 2013, these incidences started making the news.

In January, the same religious extremists who had earlier banned women from wearing jeans and tight trousers, inspired the mayor of Aceh, Indonesia, to propose a ban on women straddling bicycles and motorcycles when riding pillion. Then in February a Saudi cleric raged about forcing babies and young woman to wear burkas, which he claimed would prevent rape.

In March Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood opposed a UN Declaration on Woman’s Rights saying that granting them any basic rights would destroy society. They  proposed among other more absurd things that woman should not be allowed to travel freely, work, use contraception and control the household finances.

Earlier this month Hamas, the ultra-conservative government of Gaza passed an education bill mandating separate classrooms for boys and girls. This week in another act of pure madness Hamas lap-dogs who pass for Policemen were reported pulling young men off the streets, loading them into jeeps, insulting them and then cutting off or shaving their long or gel-styled spiky hair.

Now lest you think I’m singling out a particular religion by exposing this insanity, let me assure you that I’m not. If an adherent of [place your religion or political organization of choice here] compels me to dress or behave in a certain way, or inhibits me from exercising certain basic human rights, because it infringes some stupid law from their archaic religious texts, then I’m most certainly going to tell them to kiss my ass.

It’s not so much the religion that concerns me, as the jackasses that try to impose their understanding of it.

No religionist (or political organization) will ever prescribe to me how to dress, what to eat, how to live or what to believe.

*****

This just in…

Seems the madness has spread to Uganda too. Simon Lokodo an ex-Catholic priest, a misogynist and homophobe who is now masquerading as the Ethics Minister [fancy that?] is proposing legislation that will govern what women wear in public, including on television.

This same government-appointed keeper of the public’s morals was at the forefront of persecution and discriminatory laws against Uganda’s homosexual community not so long ago.

In response to a bigoted Christian politician…

It’s not often that men of the cloth admit to the follies of the Church and religious scripture. But when such a man does speak out against the crass wrongs perpetrated on society by the religious or political establishment, he deserves praise, not condemnation.

So you can imagine my consternation at reading this disgusting letter by one Thamsanqa Enoch Bam in an online publication, in response to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who spoke out against the vile and draconian anti-gay bill being proposed in Uganda. Tutu earned the ire of Bam by likening the hateful legislation to South Africa’s apartheid laws.

Bam, who also proclaims himself as the President of the People’s Party (a recent addition to the absurdly long list of insignificant South African political parties), asserts that the Archbishop was “going against” God’s Laws by condoning homosexuality. His conviction, unsurprisingly comes from the bible and is backed up by the quotation of a few hand-picked scriptures which I won’t repeat, such is my revulsion.

Is there a more revolting blend than a politician and a religionist?

Bam asks how the Archbishop could miss such clear scripture [referring to the revolting quotations I earlier sidestepped like a pile of steaming horeshit]. Off course, we would not be allowed the courtesy of asking how this cretin [Bam, and others of his ilk] misses with unerring conviction, all the other contradictory and hateful biblical scriptures that don’t confirm his/their prejudices.

This letter in the Times Live appears to be an extract from a lengthier blog he wrote, which also condemns gay marriage, and confoundingly professes support for the dreadful ANC [ruling party], if they “made an about turn and ended their duplicity, corruption, mismanagement and disregard of the poor masses.” And to add further insult, he concludes that the ANC’s manifest incompetence would be solved if the “country goes back to God.”

And like all fundamentalists he is off course intimate with God’s will:

As a Christian, I pray that gays and lesbians will eventually see their folly, repent, and turn away from their abominations. That is the will of God.

What a slimeball? The will of this atheist is that you change the name of your political party to Asshole’s Party, because you will never represent the people, just bigoted assholes like yourself.

Oh, yes please! Uganda can have him!

As the world’s superpowers debate the future of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, it appears that some may be amenable to him stepping down and seeking exile.

While Gaddafi has been mouthing off publicly about his intentions to stay and fight to the end, I’m certain he’ll run with his tail between his legs for the first safe destination his ill-gotten gains will allow him, just like cowardly despots tend to do.

Popular exile destinations for the world’s evil tyrants are Arab, African and South American countries. Annoyingly, South Africa features on the list of countries willing to grant political asylum to the scum of the earth; particularly nasty douchebags who are supportive of the vile shenanigans of our own nasty government.

But it now appears that President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, having a similar penchant for clinging onto power, would be quite agreeable to welcoming Gaddafi into the country, saying

Whatever his faults, he is a true nationalist.

I prefer nationalists to puppets of foreign interests.

This is good news for South Africa. We won’t have to host another lunatic former leader [and his equally deranged sons] at taxpayers expense. Uganda can have the bastard, and as many others as they want.

Hopefully, our covetous President won’t get it into his foggy head to make a counter-offer to the Libyan to pig out in South Africa instead, in the hopes of gaining a bit more material wealth; and some pointers to hanging onto power.

Some musings on the Solstice

December 21 is usually the date when the Winter Solstice occurs in the Northern hemisphere and the Summer Solstice, in the Southern hemisphere. While the Northern hemisphere’s Winter Solstice is associated with many pagan religious festivals such as Saturnalia and Sol Invictus, which have helped spawn more modern religious festivals such as Christmas, there’s not too much in the Southern hemisphere that can be associated with the Summer Solstice, apart from glorious sunshine.

Recent happenings however, from around the Southern hemisphere has left me wondering if there is also a touch of madness in the air around the Summer Solstice. And the recent continuous spell of rainfall around South Africa has done little to dispel my suspicions.

Kismayo, a port city just south of the equator in war-torn and religiously divided Somalia is now being dragged back into the stone age by Islamist al Shabaab rebels, as well. The men of Kismayo have apparently been ordered to grow long beards, wear their trousers above the ankles and shave their moustaches. And this, after they’ve already banned musical ringtones, dancing at weddings, and playing or watching soccer. It’s also been reported that al Shabaab enforces this strict form of Islamic sharia law with executions, floggings and amputations. Just what Somalia needs; more religious stupidity to exacerbate their problems.

I can just imagine the rebels yelling at the townspeople ” lower beard, raise trouser! Or else!” And if as reported in October, al Shabaab are still handing out AK-47’s, F-1 hand grenades and ammunition as prizes, then Kismayo should surely be a sight to behold in a short while (if not already); crazy-eyed men in big fuck-off beards running around in ankle-length trousers, re-introducing the grandeur of the stone age to Africa. And does it not strike one as strange or even downright ludicrous to insist on a long bushy beard and no moustache? Has to be some unfathomable religious thing. But, I suppose if you were dragging your people back into the stone age, you would expect them to dress for the part.

Moving westwards, a mass demonstration is being planned by evangelical churches in Uganda, in support of the controversial new law being introduced to persecute and prosecute gays and lesbians. Troubled countries seemingly find ready support in obtuse religious ramblings, to persecute the poor populace and divert attention away from real problems. Perhaps a more constructive use of the law would be in bringing to book, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian military group responsible for gross human rights violations, murder, mutilation, abduction and sexual enslavement of children, while forcing them to participate in the armed conflict.

Further west, in Brazil, a man and his lover were arrested for inserting about 50 sewing needles into the body of his two-year old son over a period of time, in what appears to be a bizarre revenge ritual. The lover apparently believed that she could seduce the man away from his wife by coercing him into the dastardly deed, while entering into a trance-like state, no doubt inspired by the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé religion. This observation is born out by the fact that she sought out, and paid a practitioner of the Candomblé religion to bless the needles before the rituals were performed on the child. The things people do through religious conviction!

Meanwhile down in Sydney, Australia, city residents are up in arms over the secular stance adopted by their city over Christmas decorations and non religious greetings like Season’s Greetings, instead of Happy Christmas. They claim they are fighting back against the “political correctness” and “watering down of the historically accurate view of Christmas.” A council spokesman was further quoted as saying “Our community is fed up with this erosion of the true meaning and essence of Christmas through this ridiculous pre-emptive surrender of Christmas on the basis it may offend someone.” Perhaps if they conducted some basic research, they would have found out that their traditional view of Christmas is neither historically accurate or true; they would understand why the council had adopted the secular stance, while not exactly popular among Christians, is correct nonetheless. The celebrations around this time of year are of pagan origin, not Christian.

 Finally back to corrupt old South Africa. Convicted fraudster, Shabir Shaik must be hoping for a Presidential pardon in his Christmas stocking this year, after submitting his application recently. Paroled a short while ago, incredulously due to a terminal illness, Shaik has reportedly been seen driving around town shopping and visiting friends and family, in apparent violation of his parole conditions. Amazingly, he seems to have been cured, perhaps due to the warm South African sun or a good old-fashioned miracle. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the person supposed to be considering his parole, was the self-same person who Shaik was convicted of being in a corrupt relationship with; now the President of SA. Seems that conflict of interest just translates to window of opportunity in politics.

That’s enough craziness then, for one Solstice. To all those trying to come to terms with the insanity in this world, happy holidays.