We need to handle our environmental problems, limit the centralization of power, ensure transparency of government and privacy of citizens. The rest will take care of itself.
It is not enough to tolerate religions or personal convictions or beliefs. We should recognize the power in beliefs and religions.
Yesterday I attended the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (#IPPFoRB) in Berlin.
Tolerance of religions and beliefs is an important human right. Taking action to stop or limit prosecution based on faith is paramount. But I think we can take this one step further. Beyond stopping oppression of faith, passive tolerance of faith or even promotion of a tolerant society, there is recognition of the power of faith.
Religion or belief gives purpose. Purpose gives strength, and with strength can come accomplishments.
Witness the early civilizations, the building of ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Mayans and social structures throughout our history. Religions have given purpose, strength and accomplishments to the benefit… and detriment of many. The strength has yielded the foundations for civilizations. It has also brought oppression, even terrorism. In any case, with conviction comes strength.
Religion or Belief -> Purpose -> Strength -> Accomplishment
This we should recognize and help use for the greater good. Faith can be a basis for individual strength and strong societies. Thus faith should be applauded regardless of what the person chooses to believe in.
The diversity of this conference is amazing. More than 100 MPs from more than 60 countries. All major religions are represented. Academia, NGOs and other interested parties attend.
Having attending this conference, I am left with a couple of questions. Firstly:
How can people with directly opposing purposes honestly cooperate for Freedom of Religion or Belief?
I spoke to people at the conference who have the goal of their religion winning at the expense of others.
Answers to this question could serve also to answer how we could make anarchy work in practice.
Another impression from the conference was that several of the attendants insisted that there was absolutely no connection between religion and terrorism. I believe such a refusal to discuss such a connection is both naive and dangerous. It can obfuscate a possible cause of terrorism. The blunt refusal of a discussion is never healthy.
Then there is the question of a battle of two basic human rights. Which takes rank – the freedom of religion and belief or the freedom of speech? What’s your answer to this potential dilemma?
This needs wider recognition:
“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.”
From Gall’s Law on Wikipedia.
Thanks to Geir & Jonas @ Telemark Fylkeskommune for bringing this law to my attention.
The remarkable John Cleese is spot on again:
I’m offended every day. For example, the British newspapers every day offend me with their laziness, their nastiness, and their inaccuracy, but I’m not going to expect someone to stop that happening; I just simply speak out about it. Sometimes when people are offended they want — you can just come in and say, “Right, stop that.” to whoever it is offending them. And, of course, as a former chairman of the BBC one said, “There are some people who I would wish to offend.” And I think there’s truth in that too. So the idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is what I absolutely do not subscribe to. And a fellow who I helped write two books about psychology and psychiatry was a renowned psychiatrist in London called Robin Skynner said something very interesting to me. He said, “If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.” And when you’re around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what’s going to upset them next. And that’s why I’ve been warned recently don’t to go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea, which is let’s not be mean in particular to people who are not able to look after themselves very well — that’s a good idea — to the point where any kind of criticism or any individual or group could be labeled cruel.
And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy, and believe you me I thought about this, is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke like how would you make God laugh? Answer: Tell him your plans. Now that’s about the human condition; it’s not excluding anyone. It’s saying we all have all these plans, which probably won’t come and isn’t it funny how we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke. It’s still critical. All humor is critical. If you start to say, “We mustn’t; we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humor is gone. With humor goes a sense of proportion. And then as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) won its battle for mainstream acceptance many years ago. Now it’s everywhere. It’s running the Internet and providing the foundation for software giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. People are using FOSS like never before with Wikipedia being the biggest knowledge base in human history, Linux enjoying 83% market share on smartphones and 98.8% of the World’s supercomputers, Ubuntu users counting one billion, large corporations opting for FOSS, etc.
The next surge will come from security. There will be a backlash from politicians’ craving for a more controlled society. There is a continual push for invading the privacy of ordinary citizens by hollowing the security of software. The UK, China and the US are leading the assault on privacy by trying to make it mandatory for vendors to build backdoors into their encrypted software. This would mean that anyone using Unfree and Closed Source Software will be running software that is insecure by design. Enough awareness about this security threat will push companies in the direction of FOSS. And the ordinary citizen will follow.
Because – with FOSS, there is no vendor to strong-arm and bully into submission, and any backdoor will be open for all to see.
(Thanks Marildi for providing this inspiration)
We are living in the most peaceful of times. Less armed conflicts, less war casualties, homicide rates are going down, mass killings are plummeting…
Wealth is increasing across the world, life expectancy is higher than ever and population growth has stagnated. And the people of the world is connected and communicating like never before.
It is indeed great times to be alive 🙂