Have you ever taken a walk and been struck by the quiet beauty of nature? I mean really moved by it to the point where you have to stop, sit and just soak in the feeling of comfort that quietness, freedom and beauty can bring?
As I read the news every day I see that so many in the world do not have that peace, that comfort that they can look forward to kindness and gentleness in their lives and it makes me sad. I watch the year-long process leading up to the election of the President of the United States and I am disappointed by the lack of kindness in the approach of the contenders for the job that has a very high potential to be a positive force in the world. I watch the fighting and misery in Syria all driven by the desire to control other people and take their wealth (and happiness) to satisfy ones desire for greatness or wealth or ideology and it makes me sad.
Today is January 30th, 2016, only 30days into a new year and there have already been 971 deaths by guns in the United States. That number scares me – the fact that more than 30 people have died every day since New Year’s day must be telling us something! I ask myself, where in the kindness and peace that should be ours to enjoy in the modern world, and I don’t have an answer. It makes me sad!
The Modern World
I like the term “The Modern World” . I live in that modern world. As an example, I can write my thoughts here and share them with the world. Just that is quite amazing for someone born near the middle of the 20th century. We have come so far, but have we been able to bring more peace and kindness to the world?
I believe that we have, but there are many things happening in the world that bring me grave concern. I want to stick with the modern world theme for a minute though to discuss what I hope it can bring us.
The modern world is a much better term than “The Western World” as it does not make the presumption that “The West” is somehow better. The Modern World does things like separating religion from the administration of communities such as villages, towns, cities, and countries. Just this one example shines a light of possibilities into people’s lives – let me explain.
Let’s use a city as an example. If a city administration can collect a very small amount of money from all of its citizens it can invest that money into a water and sewage system that can provide clean water, and sanitation for all of those people, no matter their belief. This allows people to use their energy for other things. This is a system of sharing and it does not require religion or membership in a certain group to benefit from this sharing activity. This is an example of the modern world.
The modern world also gives us police protection, garbage collection, technology, easy and inexpensive transportation, etc., etc.. It is quite wonderful actually. However, can it help to bring peace and kindness to the world, because, I believe, those things are what make peoples lives more fulfilled?
How Important is Freedom
In the modern world we tend to take freedom for granted. When I woke this morning, because I live in the modern world, there were many things that I could have chosen to do. Clearly, I could have chosen to write in my blog as I am doing, however I could also have chosen many, many other things to do because I live in a country that values freedom and has written that value into a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It may not be perfect, but it creates a great basis for a good life. As an example, I am not allowed to go to my neighbour’s house and interfere with his freedom, just as he is not allowed to interfere with mine – that is valuable.
Most of the world does not have that freedom! I believe that freedom like that is a goal that the global community should be striving for but I am afraid we are not.
The Not So Modern World
I am not a religious person, however I know about religion and I know about it from personal experience as I have participated in religion from most of my life and have studied religions somewhat. I certainly am no expert but I am also nit an idiot either.
Nearly all religions in the world were developed a long time ago, not in the modern world, and therefore carry a number of things that tend to keep the adherents from fully embracing the modern world.
Christianity is an example of this problem. The religion is a little over 2000 years old but for the majority of that time, the adherents of those religions have taken the view that the female gender is somehow inferior to the male gender. This was so prevalent that as societies were built, even coming into the modern world, women were restricted in their rights even after they were given any rights. I know it is ridiculous to have such notions, but that is where we have come from and as a result the burden of our stupidity for thousands of years continues to plague us. Yes, it is getting better in the modern world, albeit slowly, but what of the not so modern world?
It is not too difficult to find the not so modern world if we look around. We have many people living in the world in countries where one person, or one family are “royal” and therefore get to make all of the rules that the other people must live by. This is not modern! The people who consider themselves royal, or are considered to be royal by others are no different than all other people.
Religion plays a large part in many of the countries that allow a few people to tell others how they must live and most of they rules on how to live are based on religion, a religion that was developed before the renaissance, before the dark ages! Let’s go back to the 7th century for a few minutes to look at how people lived. In the 7th century it was a pretty primitive time. There was no rule of law and people had very little freedom because the strongest and cruelest people controlled people’s lives. During this time a guy named Muhammad was one of these warlords, trying to gain control of the “most” land, people, resources. One of the tools that he used in his quest was a religion that he claimed only he knew about because God (Allah) told him about it. There was no evidence of this, no indication of this religion other than what Muhammad said – everyone had to take his word for it.
This new religion he called Islam and he clearly indicated to everyone that God told him about everything and how all people should live every day. Now, of course because this new approach was developed in the 7th century, many of the customs that were already on place where he lived were built into this “new” religion. Things like women being possessions of men was normal in the Arabian peninsula at that time, so Muhammad said that God said that was right. Also men could trade their female children for riches by selling them to other men as wives even when they were children, so Muhammad said that God claimed that was right too.
Muhammad also claimed that these rules could never be changed because they were the perfect rules given to only him by God and, of course, anyone claiming this to be wrong should be killed. Also, this “religious” law should be the law for all people because it was perfect and would always be perfect, so Islam was born.
We are now 1,400 years later and thousands of people are being killed this year because adherents of Islam believe they must make everyone follow the 7th century rules and be ruled by the Calf!
So back to my theme of the value of freedom, peace and kindness – does Islam under the Calf bring these things? It certainly does not for women, anyone who does not bow down and follow the Calf, any person who might want to choose another religion, even another interpretation of Islam. Of course this all seems ridiculous to those who live in the modern world, yet millions of people must face this barbarism every day – they are forced to live in the 7th century.
The Movement of People toward Freedom, Peace, and Kindness
For the most part, people don’t like to live in misery and as we see, millions are leaving the seas of the world that try to control their lives – they are seeking something better for themselves and their families – they seek freedom, peace and kindness and are willing to risk death to travel to find it.
Millions of people have left western Asia and northern Africa this year in search of that better life. This movement of people strains our resources globally. How can a tiny country like Greece that is struggling financially to help its own citizens deal with millions of refugees? They cannot and therefore the refugees must move on to other countries where there is hope for a future with freedom, peace and kindness.
Even Germany is now struggling to deal with providing for these people. In addition to the needs of poor people who have risk death to arrive in Germany, sometimes bring their views of the world that they have learned from living in the not-so-modern world. Ideas like women being possessions, or simple deserving respect. These old ideas must be changed, but it will take time and cause difficulty in the interim- let’s hope for a fast learning curve.
Addressing the Cause of The Problem
I have actually studied problem-solving techniques. It is not a simple field of study because you are always dealing with problems (no pun intended). My experience with problems and finding a solution to them has taught me to always consider the “why” of a problem – why does this problem exist? It is important to not just to conclusions about the “why” because if you have not identified the real cause of the problem, your solution will not solve it.
Back to the problem of a lack of freedom, peace and kindness – and the movement of millions of people from areas where they don’t have these things to areas where they hope to have them. My problem solving skills, such as they are, bring me first to consider the question of whether people can have freedom, peace and kindness where they currently live and therefore allow them to stay and not risk death for the hope of finding these things.
So let’s consider that question. Another problem solving technique that I have actually developed on my own is to imagine an extreme case of the problem (I find it sometimes aids in understanding the problem). In the case of what we are considering here an extreme case foes not have to be imagined because we have the extreme case of Syria and Iraq. Thousands die, leave, live in misery, have no freedom, peace or kindness in this area. An extreme case for sure – so let’s think about why the problem exists and compare it to where the problem does not exist.
I will begin with Syria by describing the problems I see ( remember I am not there so I have limited real experience with the misery):
- The country is in the midst of a civil war.
- There are multiple opposition groups willing to kill others.
- There is a current regime that is willing to kill anyone that does not agree with the “royal”.
- There is an Islamic group trying to create a Caliphate to rule the world with a “royal”.
- There are multiple countries participating in support of different factions for a multitude of reasons, none of which we can be sure are legitimate.
- There are a multitude of weapons suppliers pursuing multiple factions for the purpose of advancing their businesses.
- There is no freedom.
- There is no peace.
- There is no kindness.
Now compare this to where I currently live:
- There is no civil war.
- There are no groups willing to kill others for control of the lives of people.
- The government is concerned with providing service and protecting citizens.
- Religion is not allowed to form a government or control people.
- There are no other countries in mine trying to change or remove the government.
- Weapons suppliers don’t really have a market here except for the silly wasteful practice of killing animals.
- There is freedom.
There is peace.
- There is kindness.
As you can see there are multiple differences but how do we change the difficult one into the other – it is complex and will require complex solutions and much more resolve than we have seen.
But jumping to conclusions won’t speed up the process. Neither will countries stating that they are “very concerned” yet doing nothing. Let’s be clear, Syria and Iraq are a mess and people are leaving to save their own lives. Solving the problem will require a very frank discussion with many groups and global leadership will have to get tougher. The questions that will require real answers are things like:
- Why is Russia there, and why are the Russian planes bombing areas where ISIS not part of the problem – Putin should have to answer this.
- Why did the US think they could destroy the government structure in Iraq and leave to create a void to be filled by violent self-service Islamist regimes?
- Why is the UN useless in this situation or any situation. Why does the UN allow “royals” to represent the people of a country that does not democratically elect the leaders – how can they represent the people?
- Why are governments that do not respect human rights (common sense) allowed to sit at any bargaining table. It is 2016, and time to grow up. If government are bullies they need to be excluded from the world stage and market. A good example is Saudi Arabia – they do not respect human rights and as a result the world market for oil should not purchase a single drop of Saudi oil until they get their church out of people’s lives and respect human rights.
It is Not Difficult to Figure Out
If the things we do in the world bring freedom, respect, peace and kindness then the world will move ahead. If the things we do, don’t bring these things then we need to examine what we are doing and change it.
We need to be kind to each other. We can no longer stick to 7th century customs that do not respect the rights of other people. Is your ancient religion does not negatively affect others you ca go ahead with it however if you think that your deity tells you how other people should live, you are part of a cult and it cannot be allowed. Human rights override you ability to control others.
We must give each other freedom, globally. The rule of law cannot be someone’s religious law – it doesn’t work, likely because it was made up by a 7th century warlord to help him enslave others.
This is not rocket science folks – lets stop making the lives of others miserable and using the simple concepts of freedom, respect, peace and kindness to make our world a better place – please!