Tuesday, May 18, 2010

...but, is it right?

As an all around human rights activist, I often become torn between human rights and cultural/religious values (and/or freedom of expression of such from a more legal nature). Most recently, I've been connecting online with fellow nontheists (even Black ones - and that really helps my not feeling erm, well...alone in thought). Unfortunately, between my work schedule and my not even knowing where and how to get out and meet people, the majority of these acquiantances have been made on twitter and the like while lurking in the wee hours of the morning. I'm beginning to make time for people, but it's a little aggravating to seem to only attract sexual deviants or losers of varying other degrees. I've gained a few other friends and am slowly but surely making progress, though I miss my best friends from home incredibly.

Yet, recently stumbling upon more people with similar not-so-religious world views has become encouraging to me in more ways than one. Most of all, though, it's good to be able to engage in religious debate without being seen as combative or some fisherperson looking for a fight (because, contrary to popular belief, we don't all believe the exact same thing). I was engaged in a conversation with a nontheist friend of mine from college weeks ago, and we shared the same gripe that more and more, atheism/non-religion is becoming organized and behaving religious-like in congregation, even though in our own minds, it's about "unbelief". I truly take pride in contemplating carefully the words choose to use as descriptors, and like another good friend of mine, I loathe labels. I yam what I yam!

At any rate, recently being engaged in another stimulating conversation with a new acquaintance while at work, we were discussing human rights and religious tolerance. And upon reading this re-post on Richard Dawkins' blog, I felt it important to write about. The general gist of the post is the fact that the Saudi Arabian police and fire department "actively hindered" 15 young girls from the escape of their burning school. Why would they do that? Why would the people who maintain an occupation where they ideally would want to help other people participate in trapping young girls in a burning school turned-graveyard? Well, because in fleeing for their lives, they were attempting to escape the school without their head-coverings. Now, as for the recent post on Dawkins' website, there was recently a legislation passed by the religious police to allow male emergency response workers to enter girls-only schools in the event of an emergency (and sorry, the only link that was attached was Dutch, but there is a translation on the other blog). Of course this raises church and state issues, the same issues that seem to cause most social issues in seemingly every society, and that is an issue?

What about Afghanistan's epidemic of child rape? Or in South Africa? Or the women in the Congo? Or the abuse of nuns (that is largely ignored by the mainstream media!) and children's sexual abuse by the Catholic church as an establishment?

He asked if I thought this practice, mainly speaking to Afghan child-rape, to be right and while I naturally said no and elaborated on why - even when abusers claimed the young girls participate in these actions - children cannot consent, why there's no circumstance where an adult should even feel justified in having sex with a child, why it's wrong, becauseweallknowhowlongwindedIcanbe.
And he said, "Okay, I understand what you're saying...but, is it right?"
Well no, hell no it's not right. As a matter of fact, under no circumstances is rape acceptable -- let alone child rape. Not in Islam, not in Catholicism, not in less religious society, not in any form of human interaction is this at all "right".
"...then, why aren't we doing anything?"
Well, now..when you say we? When you say we, are you meaning we, the US? We, the non-religious? We, Black people?
"We, every other person on the planet that behaves under the assumption that this behavior is abusive. Why aren't we doing anything?"
And while I could think of so many reasons that people use to justify why we don't get involved, I couldn't honestly think of one rational reason as to why we don't get involved and stop it.

Now, this isn't about my opinions on religions. This isn't even about my own personal "religious tolerance" - though I hate the term tolerance because it insinuates uncaring acknowledgment versus acceptance of other people. This is about human rights over the right to practice what you believe, however radical and warped a version of whichever concept you believe. Who cares what religious/social/cultural/political/whatever-al label you identify with if you are using that label to justify sexual and physical (and, psychological, as a result) harm toward another person, child or otherwise?

I'm not on a crusade against any ideological group in particular because I am completely fine with who I am; does that mean I don't voice my opinion tactfully with religious people willing to engage in an open discussion about their beliefs? Not at all. I don't go around instigating such situations. I don't passively allow people to discuss religion, prayer or the like as a means to "other" people who may hold the same belief, either. However, upon reflection, is passive non-theism just as allowing of such crimes as the passively religious? -- you know, the people who say "well, see, the way I interpret it..", etc. Is religious tolerance more important than intervening - as people from all over, not governments - where we can without waging war and further upsetting the balance of human and environmental rights worldwide? Should we be doing something more?

Then why aren't we?

Be Righteous.


  1. I think you're already doing something - the only thing that you can do at this moment. You're questioning, expressing and debating within yourself. Imagine all the people in the world who NEVER even once ask themselves 'why aren't WE' doing something about child rapes, the burning of girls or the systemic rape of women in the Congo. As someone who lives in another part of the world where this mass injustice is occuring, you're job is to express that you disagree with just injustice in whichever way that you see fit. In this case, you have been moved enough to sit down and write a blog post. Other people may write to their local newspaper or protest in other forms. As you pointed out correctly, as outsiders trying to do something about a situation we risk upsetting the balance of the human social and environmental ecosystem. Thus, our job as outsiders should be to continue to agigate for justice by encouraging and supporting the people like you who are against such injustices and are INSIDE. Perhaps you can donate to Human Rights Watch or do a phonebank with Amnesty International or whatever way you see fit to. I think it is important to weight the risk of doing more harm than good by invoking outside forces in a situation that is far beyond our borders and fully able to understand its larger impact.

  2. Ah! I thought you didn't read comments! haha but I'm always reading - you see I'm afraid I may expose my failings in domestic issues you cover on the blog so I hide until you write things like these. I'm most tempted to comment on your-so-funny sexual deviant stories (couldn't stop laughing about the beastility dude, goldmine!) always. I hope you'll share your master plan soon:)