Apr 29, 2012

Sex, Politics and Religion

I'm going off topic. We'll resume the usual programming about parenting and working and nervous breakdowns shortly. Meantime, what are your top "versus" topics?

Here are three of mine:

1. Religion vs Atheism

Religion provides valuable cultural and psychological benefits. If it didn't, it wouldn't exist.
Yes, it is associated with much repression and misery within cultures. But that's not the religion per se doing that, it is the way it is used by the powerful. Similarly, religion is a pretext for wars, not a cause.

I have no actual problem with religion.

I send my kids to RE at school (with some guilt and misgivings - but I still think I'm doing the right thing). I am helping them get the experiences and the tools to help them grow in their culture, understand human knowledge and experience, AND question beliefs. We discuss Jesus and God and Heaven sometimes, and where it is appropriate, I am starting to let them know, gradually, that these are not fixed, settled realities. More will follow as they get older.

It might be my 200-years-ago anthropology degree speaking here, but I really believe what works for kids is integrating them into the culture they live in. Give them the belonging and the frameworks and the community. Sow some seeds to allow questioning and rebellion, but let them go either way.

I am, however, a HUGE fan of Richard Dawkins. Some find him smug or snobbish, but what he really is is just relentlessly logical. The God Delusion was a strong, minty breath of fresh air. Remember, Dawkins made atheism okay. That's huge.

[Oh - and while I'm on The God Delusion - for an example of how religious and atheists can discuss these things in a respectful, open-minded way, see this blog: http://isitadelusion.blogspot.com.au/ ]

2. Left vs Right

Photo by bitterlysweet via Flickr CC
I've always been left-leaning myself. My dad and grandfather used to call me "the Communist" when I was a kid, which, all respect to them, is not saying a whole lot. Or I thought it wasn't, until the day my rabidly, cringe-inducingly Far Right grandfather told us he had been a member of the Communist Party when he was young. The shock and merriment this news produced in our family is hard to overstate. Pop explained it with his variant on the Winston Churchill quote : "If you're not a Communist at 19, you have no soul. If you're still a Communist at 29, you have no brain."

I love that quote because it says a lot about my grandfather, and also it's just funny and true in the way it depicts youthful righteousness slowly morphing to centrist pragmatism with age and experience.

Now there are many things on the right that I dislike. But I have to say the one thing I most dislike on the left is smugness. I hate that whole thing the left tends to congratulates itself with, that being left makes you a kinder, better person.

It's true there are horrendously cruel and uncaring philosophies on the right. The callousness and lack of charity on the American right never fail to take my breath away. There are close-minded, unthinking people who refuse to credit anything outside their own skill or persistence in their success or affluence. So yes, that's true.

But many on the left are not open minded either. They think they are, but they aren't. Open minded doesn't mean adopting every liberal stance going and knee-jerking snarky abuse at other options. Open minded is not rejecting every public utterance of someone because of where they sit politically. Even if they happen to be (gasp!) Tony Abbott or Andrew Bolt.
                But, but... those guys are close-minded!
                               So what?  Be better.  Be open minded.

In Australia up to half the population votes Liberal. Hey, I voted for them once! (I call myself a swinging voter, but I don't actually "swing" so much as consider swinging, most elections).

To dismiss half the population as stupid and greedy is insulting, but more than that - and I think this annoys me more - it is illogical. It is ridiculous to imply that such a large proportion of the population is bad.

There are unthinking, close-minded voters on both sides.  There are people who vote from their hip pocket on both sides. (As Lee Iacocca said in his autobiography, "When we were poor we voted Democrat; when we were rich we voted Republican.")
And there are thinking, caring people voting out of belief for what's best for the country, voting from all sides.

*Winston Churchill quote:  “If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

3. Marriage Equality vs "Marriage is Between a Man and a Woman".

Well, marriage equality, absolutely. FFS, if nothing else, it's time. I feel the tipping point on this was reached a couple of years ago. So what are the objections?

"Marriage is between a man and a woman." 
C'mon. That language was drafted in the ancient past when homosexuality was unknown to many and taboo to everyone else. We're not in that place anymore.

"It disrespects marriage." 
We have been doing that for ages without help from gay folk. Unhappy marriages, forced marriages, marriages of convenience, marriage for money, political marriages, separations, the divorce rate, people who marry four times... Please.

"What's wrong with a civil union that confers the same legal benefits?" 
Well, I don't know. Let's see: Did you choose a civil union, or marriage?
People want what people want. There is no "real" reason for marriage as such, but people continue to want it. Everyone should have the same access to it.

Photo: Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures 

Your turn!
What are your top "versus" topics?

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...