Jan. 9th, 2011

yeloson: (Default)
Thinking a lot about this lately, between the racist Islamophobia, militant atheists, and, you know, assassination attempts.

Beliefs can be put on a scale. On one end, there's beliefs that have nearly zero effect on anyone else- like, "What's my favorite color?" They're pretty much harmless beliefs and no one gets into a fuss about them.

Then there's personal beliefs which, also, don't affect others much, really. You know, "I spend a few hours every week playing Ultimate Frisbee" is not much different than "I spend a few hours every week meditating" or "I spend a few hours every week at Church."

Though, this IS where people do start getting into each other's business.

There's a third step, and that's when it affects others- you have proselytizers coming to your door, you have people trying to push City Council to change a law or ordinance, you get socially ostracized...

This IS a place where we need to look at boundaries, and not have people inflicting their beliefs on each other. Of course, this ideal will never be achieved, but this is really the point where we need to focus and negotiate on, on a daily basis to keep a functional society.

The fourth step is when it actively and immediately harms others- shooting doctors, keeping other folks from getting medical treatment, marrying off children to people they don't want to marry, cleansing your nation of "those people"... etc.

That's pretty much the fucked up end of the scale, where human decency has broken down completely.

So, the thing I keep seeing? People keep arguing about the second (or even first) steps, instead of the third. That is, that somehow what people believe is actually harming you more than the actions taken by those beliefs and whether they affect you at all.

From a scientific standpoint- that's magical thinking. From a religious standpoint, that's denying your own faith. Either way, if you're correct, what other people think shouldn't be an issue compared to what they do and how it affects you and society.

And, it's not like any system, including science hasn't taken it to that last step on the scale in the past (Lobotomies to cure hysteria! Science! Tuskegee & Guatamala's syphilis murders experiements! Science!).

The crux of the problem is human rights and respect.

There's also a privilege aspect to it too- the least privileged are fighting to push the situation back from the 4th step, while the most privileged are worried about things on the 1st step... hence why it's really important for women and slaves to always smile- even thought of discontent could upset the system...

The folks most worried about what other people think, rather than what other people DO, aren't worried about protecting their own rights as much as taking away the rights of others.

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yeloson

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