Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Little Respect: When Belief Systems Clash

I've already written about the value of being tolerant of other people's beliefs on the grounds that it's a good thing to get along. This appears to have been totally ignored because forbearance takes a fair amount of effort, to be honest. It's easier to dismiss those people you disagree with than to find common ground with them and find a way to work together. The thing is, we're not all in a position to lose friends and alienate people with impunity, particularly when we're trying to build support for the Pirate Party. Yes, Rick Falkvinge, I'm talking to you, mate.

Religion V Atheism

If you scroll down to the bottom of Rick's comments, you'll find this:

It's been a while since people were fined for non-attendance at the state church. Nobody goes to prison for complaining about or making fun of religious figures here, and when Satanic Verses writer Salman Rushdie was in fear of his life after a fatwa was issued against him, he received protection from the state. What force?

That certain Islamic groups get a little over-excited, to say the least, over the way their leaders, etc., are represented does not mean they all do. That people have been killed by religious zealots using religion as a cloak of respectability for their personal greed and rapacity is beyond doubt but to compare "everyone killed by Christian extremist violence" with even "Islamic extremist violence" only works if you do it percentage-wise since Christianity has been around for longer. The picture looks a lot different if you do it that way, doesn't it? Otherwise, it's like building a house up to the rafters and asking me to roof it while Aziz goes off to the builders' merchants to hire a digger and buy cement and bricks to build a house from scratch.

That's all par for the course, though; religion is popular. Why? And if religion is popular and you mock and insult people of faith, how popular will you make yourself among them? Will they abandon everything they ever believed and run along behind you? I think not. And if you're trying to popularise a movement that lost EU Parliament seats in the last election, is it wise to alienate potential voters with domestic elections coming up? Probably not.

And I bet you will never admit that atheists are every bit as authoritarian as the religions they affect to despise. Seriously, would you discriminate when hiring if you saw "I'm an active member of my local church youth group" in an applicant's CV? I hope not, but I can't help thinking that the answer is, "I wouldn't want one of those people working for me."

The role of the Twofold Principle

Respecting religion doesn't mean you're obliged to agree with it, just that you live and let live where religion is concerned. Remember the Twofold Principle:

The individual must be free to act and the will of the people must be respected.

Your choices are your own but so are other people's. And if they don't agree with your choices in sufficient numbers to provide legal sanction for those choices, that's democracy for you. Remember, you're only one bee in the swarm. No authoritarian likes the Twofold Principle because it means that they have to give way to the will of the people in some areas, e.g. not wandering about naked in public places. But freedom isn't free, mate, it's a series of trade-offs in which you get enough freedom to and we get sufficient freedom from. Excessive individualism is as harmful as excessive conformity. We need to balance the two and no, it's not easy. So what I'm saying is, a little respect, enough that we can get along, is a good idea if only to widen the entryway for potential new members of the Pirate Party. Do you really want to put people of faith off joining because they think it'd be a hostile environment for them? Can you really afford to lose friends and alienate people? What sort of a party are you aiming for — big tent, lots of variety or small tent, our kind only? Be careful what you wish for, mate.

No comments:

Post a Comment