Freedom – What Do We Want?

I think freedom is relative. What I believe is a myth is the total freedom so many right-wingers seem to crave.

To have total freedom would be anarchy and not in anybody’s interest. The Wild West is testament to that – a violent place of lawlessness in which people died young and lived in fear.

For me there is a compromise. I want freedom to practice religion or not, freedom to say what I like short of spreading hate or instigating violence, freedom to be educated without indoctrination, freedom to support whatever politics I like, freedom to walk around without being attacked, freedom to wear what I like, freedom to cause offense and freedom to express my sexuality.

Those are the type of things that I want in a tolerant society and I think the West gets that compromise about right.

Freedom – it’s a myth!!

Well to start with we don’t really possess a self in order to be free. Our self is a construct of our interactions so the very idea of freedom for such a construct is spurious.

But having said that a lot of us like the idea of freedom.

We don’t like things being imposed on us.

We like to be able to do what we want.

Those two aspects, basically, are the foundation of what we would consider freedom. However, even a cursory glance tells us that freedom is illusory. We cannot live in society without things being imposed on us (and we wouldn’t want to) and we can’t be allowed to do as we like (nor would we want to).

Imagine living in a big urban conurbation without rules. It would be impossible. The roads would not work. Public transport would not work. Walking down the street would not work. Getting goods would not work. Work would not work. Mixing with different people would not work.

Every day life has a set of laws and rules, from all driving on the right side of the road to not barging people out of the way on the pavements. Without those rules and social etiquette life does not work.

All those rules and etiquette impinge on our freedom.

Imagine if everybody was free to do just as they wanted – not to have to work, to just take what they wanted, to jump queues, attack people, rape, gorge and splurge. To drive through the city centre at 150 MPH and to murder whoever you liked. To berate someone and threaten them because they did not like the colour of their skin or religion.

All those restrictions impinge on our freedom but they protect the freedoms of others. It’s surely a question of balance isn’t it?

I think a lot of people have some idealistic view of what life could be like if they did not have petty bureaucrats or overbearing governments restricting them. But isn’t one man’s freedom another person’s loss of freedom?

Aren’t we confusing licence with freedom?

In practice freedom is a compromise isn’t it? If we live with one other person we have to consider them and restrict our own freedom accordingly. If we live in large communities we have to abide by the rules and further compromise our freedom in order to enable us all to get along.

When people bleat about their own rights and freedoms being compromised are they really just saying that they think the compromises are too great and that the laws are not right?

But then with billions of people it is not possible for everyone to be happy with where the lines are drawn is it?

For me freedom exists in the Rights as laid out in the United Nations Charter of Human Rights. That document gives me all the freedoms I could want. I’m happy to live within that set of rules and I’d consider myself a free man.

South African Townships.

This is part of the problem in South Africa. While the white minority live in houses like this:

and the black population live in townships like this:

Having to use toilets like this:

Where the sewage goes down a pipe and straight out into the sea causing a great brown slick;

I think we are going to have problems. It creates resentment and rage.

The African Government needs to provide adequate housing for the black population and raise their standard of living.

Africa’s First Female President Bans FGM on Her Last Day in Office

Great news from Global Citizen. It is long overdue that this disgusting practice is stopped.

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/liberia-sirleaf-fgm-ban-womens-rights-equality/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=UK_26_Jan_2018_content_digest_alive

Do people have rights?

In my opinion – No.

In nature there are no rights. It is the simple law of survival and reproducing. Nothing more.

I do not believe there are any gods to confer rights upon us.

That leaves only us.

I believe that human communities have the ability to use their intelligence and confer rights upon other human beings in the same way that they produce laws and regulate society. Those ‘rights’ are not immutable. They only exist through consensus and through people buying into the philosophy that lies at their heart.

The best set of ‘Rights’ are those enshrined within the UN Charter – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I believe that to be the best document ever produced by human beings.

http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

Racism, Multiculturalism and Islamphobia.

Racism, Multiculturalism and Islamphobia.

Like most people I am a mongrel. If I was to examine my DNA I bet I would find traces of African, Asian, European and probably more. I hope so.

I am not a nationalist. I am a globalist. I see myself as a human being and part of the global brother/sisterhood of man and a responsible hominid. I am not a patriot in the usual sense of the word. I fight for universal freedom, suffrage and rights.

I love variety and the celebration of difference. I welcome people with different backgrounds. But I do have a proviso. This country is attractive because we have an over-riding culture of tolerance, liberal thinking and radicalism. We have led the world in many areas of social emancipation and I am proud of that. We have been a haven for refugees fleeing from oppression and I am proud of that. People come here because they value the freedom, democracy and values we espouse. What I object to is people who wish to impose un-British values on me.

I am not against immigration. I am against overpopulation world-wide.

I do not care if people are black, white, pink, brown, red or yellow. Their race is unimportant. What is important is their character and the values they have.

My views are neither racist nor Islamphobic.

There is no biological foundation for racism. It stems from basic xenophobic fear. I want universal brother-sisterhood and equality.

As an antitheist I believe all religions are dangerous and harmful, superstitious nonsense and the sooner we mature and leave them behind the better. But I do not advocate a repression of religions or action against them. As far as I am concerned everyone should be free to practise whatever religion they wish. But that should be a personal choice, not one imposed on anyone. I am opposed to all forms of indoctrination (particularly with children – which I regard as particularly pernicious and psychologically damaging), evangelism and imposition. I would do away with all religious schools (indoctrination factories) and RE lessons other than historical comparative context. I do not have any hierarchy of which religions I dislike most. They are all the same. They have all been responsible for intolerance, indoctrination and atrocities.
I believe that religion will wither and die of its own accord as the farcical stories are shown to be unfounded.
My diatribes on religion are founded on the infringements of basic human rights and the indoctrination processes they adopt. The practices of fanatics has been similar throughout history whether its pogroms, crusades, torture, beheadings, jihads, partitions, inquisitions or witch-hunts – it’s all about politics and power. They are all callous, brutal thugs, indoctrinated and used by cynical leaders. Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and even Buddhists all have pasts full of atrocities. I abhor them all.
I welcome the variety of cultures and customs. I think they enrich. But I do not respect people who wish to impose their views on me, enforce their religion on me or others or wish to depose the prevailing British culture which is the result of enlightenment and centuries of social struggle. In my view people who live in this country should be integrated and aspire to the values of tolerance and freedom that permeate the culture. I have come to see that aspects of multiculturalism have created apartness and a loss of an over-riding shared cultural values. I don’t think that is good.

My issues with religion are about human rights. I think you can have family values without practicing misogyny or making women second class citizens. Unfortunately I see many practises in Muslim communities abroad and in Britain which restrict the rights of women (voting, driving, dress code, freedoms, genital mutilation, education etc.) which are enforced and infringe basic human rights.
When you lock women away and create a sexually repressed society the males often behave abhorrently. We saw the same hypocrisy in Victorian Britain. This is why I am in favour of sexual liberalisation and monogamy and family values. You can have both.

What the world needs is less fanaticism and intolerance and more love and harmony. The worst scenario of all is a theocracy. The tyrannous imposition of religion on people is surely the most regressive and stifling experience. We were freed by the Enlightenment. As soon as we got the shackles off our culture blossomed, science and discovery were unleashed.

I am all for building a positive zeitgeist! This blog welcomes atheists, believers, antitheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, non-believers, Sikhs, Jains, doubters, all other sects, denominations and faiths and those that don’t give a hoot.

It welcomes people of all colours and customs.

You are all most welcome!

I want debate, argument, fellowship and understanding. We might not agree but we can still respect each other and practise our tolerance.

Animal Rights – Plant Rights – Human Rights

Animal Rights – Plant Rights – Human Rights

Around 3 billion years ago a wondrous thing happened. The Earth had been cooling for a couple of billion years and conditions conspired to create something incredible. The first simple life-form was produced.

img_3161

The chances of that happening are so slight that it is possible that out of all the planets circling the 400 billion stars in our own galaxy this is the only instance where life has spontaneously formed. It could be that we are the only life in any of the two trillion galaxies that we know of.

Life is something special.

From that one single cell of life the whole spectrum of life on this planet has evolved – from the simplest to the most complex.

What we have all around us comes from that first cell. We are all its children.

p1120125-3

No plant or animal is more evolved than any other. We have all been around for exactly the same time.

Only humans would apply a value system to life. We try to create a hierarchy of importance.

We place plants at the bottom of the scale, then bacteria, then we work our way up through worms, slugs, insects to fish, then through amphibian, reptiles and birds to mammals – through mammals to monkeys then apes and finally us – human beings – the crown of creation. Some people don’t even accept that we are animals and related to everything else. Somehow we were uniquely created by a deity. We are not part of this at all.

Featured Image -- 15108P1120364 (2)p1130158

Except this is nonsense. Nothing is more important than anything else. We humans are just animals. We have merely organised living things according to their similarity to ourselves. In a biological sense plants are the highest form of life. Their cellular complexities is hundreds of times more complex than that of any human cell. We place a premium on intelligence. Consciousness and intelligence are merely survival characteristics evolved by organisms – nothing more.

I don’t mean to belittle the wonder of consciousness and intelligence – they are phenomenal. I merely point out that they are one of many equally fabulous wonders that life possesses. They are no more special.

Likewise we cannot know the level of consciousness of other creatures or even plants. We can only surmise.

Personally I believe we will soon discover that plants have a consciousness that is quite as good as ours. We will see.

The argument that I am making is that life is too fabulous to treat with the disdain that we have been treating it. We should be worshipping all of it for the wonder it is and protecting it with all our might.

I am a big advocate of human rights – but I am a bigger advocate of the rights of the rest of the spectrum of life. I think it is foolish to make distinction.

The message I would send is – protect nature, protect the plants and animals around us, conserve the wilderness and diversity. They all have as much importance and rights as we do.

This is what I have to say about the destruction we are doing to nature and a way forward.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anthropocene-Apocalypse-Opher-Goodwin/dp/1502427079/ref=la_B00MSHUX6Y_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478174075&sr=1-13

Jose Mujica Quotes.

Jose Mujica was the President of Uruguay. He started off as a revolutionary and ended up as a wise, humble, pragmatic, visionary, liberalising 80 year old. He donated 90% of his salary to charity and lived like his fellow countrymen.

He liberalised the laws on cannabis, gay marriage and abortion. Not bad for an old man. He ruled over a country that was prosperous and contented. In his early days he was imprisoned as a terrorist.

He is probably the politician that I have most respect for.

‘Former President of Uruguay Jose Mujica was once considered the poorest, most humble leader in the world. Mujica took office in March 2010, but never moved into Uruguay’s presidential palace. Instead, he opted to remain in his run-down chrysanthemum farm that he shared with his wife and several animals.’

That’s how I like my politicians – committed to doing what is right and not lining their own nests.

“Worse than drugs is drug trafficking. Much worse. Drugs are a disease, and I don’t think that there are good drugs or that marijuana is good. Nor cigarettes. No addiction is good. I include alcohol. The only good addiction is love. Forget everything else.”

The world cries out for global rules that respect the achievements of science.

I give myself the luxury of saying what I want.

Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.

My years in jail were a bit like a workshop for me – that actually forged my way of thinking and my values.

“Consumerism could be the final stage in human civilization, if we keep battering and attacking nature.”

“We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means, by being prudent, the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction. But we think as people and countries, not as a species.”

“We applied a very simple principle: Recognize the facts. Abortion is old as the world. Gay marriage, please — it’s older than the world. We had Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, please. To say it’s modern, come on, it’s older than we are. It’s an objective reality that it exists. For us, not legalizing it would be to torture people needlessly.”

“I’m not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live. My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I’m the son of my history. There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress.”

I don’t want to be an apologist for poverty, but I can’t stand waste, useless spending, wasted energy and having to live squandering stuff.

“As soon as politicians start climbing up the ladder, they suddenly become kings. I don’t know how it works, but what I do know is that republics came to the world to make sure that no one is more than anyone else.” The pomp of office, he said, is like something left over from a feudal past: “You need a palace, red carpet, a lot of people behind you saying, ‘Yes, sir.’ I think all of that is awful.”

“Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce,” Mujica told businessmen at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s no mystery — the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources.”

“What’s sad is that an 80-year-old grandpa has to be the open-minded one. Old people aren’t old because of their age, but because of what’s in their heads. They are horrified at this, but they aren’t horrified at what’s happening in the streets?”

“I have a way of life that I don’t change just because I am a president. I earn more than I need, even if it’s not enough for others. For me, it is no sacrifice, it’s a duty.”

“A president is a high-level official who is elected to carry out a function. He is not a king, not a god. He is not the witch doctor of a tribe who knows everything. He is a civil servant. I think the ideal way of living is to live like the vast majority of people whom we attempt to serve and represent.”

On being happy – “To live in accordance with how one thinks. Be yourself and don’t try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don’t expect others to live like me. I want to respect people’s freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don’t share those views.”

“My goal is to achieve a little less injustice in Uruguay, to help the most vulnerable and to leave behind a political way of thinking, a way of looking at the future that will be passed on and used to move forward. There’s nothing short-term, no victory around the corner. I will not achieve paradise or anything like that. What I want is to fight for the common good to progress. Life slips by. The way to prolong it is for others to continue your work.”

 

Cesar Chavez Quotes

Cesar Chavez was a non-violent activist for the rights of the Mexican American farm workers. He worked to give farm workers rights, a fair wage and dignity.
He helped unionise and gain respect for exploited workers.
Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.
Variety is the spice of life provided it does not produce intolerance, disrespect or violence.
If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.
You do not get to know someone until you’ve shared a meal.
You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.
None of us are. Together we are strong.
There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence.
It has been proved time and time again. You cannot defeat determined non-violence. It has the moral high ground.
Real education should consist of drawing the goodness and the best out of our own students. What better books can there be than the book of humanity?
Too true! Education is development not rote learning. If we do not produce creative caring people we are wasting our time.
Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves – and be free.
Education is liberating not imprisonment. It is the most enjoyable experience of all.
There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.
You do not get anywhere without hard work and application (unless you are born rich and exploit others).
Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.
Language is a window to the soul.
We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation.
Cultural diversity is enriching! Mongrels have more vigour!
The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.
And nature, and the planet, and the plants and animals!

Animal Rights – Plant Rights – Human Rights

Around 3 billion years ago a wondrous thing happened. The Earth had been cooling for a couple of billion years and conditions conspired to create something incredible. The first simple life-form was produced.

img_3161

The chances of that happening are so slight that it is possible that out of all the planets circling the 400 billion stars in our own galaxy this is the only instance where life has spontaneously formed. It could be that we are the only life in any of the two trillion galaxies that we know of.

Life is something special.

From that one single cell of life the whole spectrum of life on this planet has evolved – from the simplest to the most complex.

What we have all around us comes from that first cell. We are all its children.

p1120125-3

No plant or animal is more evolved than any other. We have all been around for exactly the same time.

Only humans would apply a value system to life. We try to create a hierarchy of importance.

We place plants at the bottom of the scale, then bacteria, then we work our way up through worms, slugs, insects to fish, then through amphibian, reptiles and birds to mammals – through mammals to monkeys then apes and finally us – human beings – the crown of creation. Some people don’t even accept that we are animals and related to everything else. Somehow we were uniquely created by a deity. We are not part of this at all.

Featured Image -- 15108P1120364 (2)p1130158

Except this is nonsense. Nothing is more important than anything else. We humans are just animals. We have merely organised living things according to their similarity to ourselves. In a biological sense plants are the highest form of life. Their cellular complexities is hundreds of times more complex than that of any human cell. We place a premium on intelligence. Consciousness and intelligence are merely survival characteristics evolved by organisms – nothing more.

I don’t mean to belittle the wonder of consciousness and intelligence – they are phenomenal. I merely point out that they are one of many equally fabulous wonders that life possesses. They are no more special.

Likewise we cannot know the level of consciousness of other creatures or even plants. We can only surmise.

Personally I believe we will soon discover that plants have a consciousness that is quite as good as ours. We will see.

The argument that I am making is that life is too fabulous to treat with the disdain that we have been treating it. We should be worshipping all of it for the wonder it is and protecting it with all our might.

I am a big advocate of human rights – but I am a bigger advocate of the rights of the rest of the spectrum of life. I think it is foolish to make distinction.

The message I would send is – protect nature, protect the plants and animals around us, conserve the wilderness and diversity. They all have as much importance and rights as we do.

This is what I have to say about the destruction we are doing to nature and a way forward.