Category Archives: Ethics

Poppies

Lest we forget.

These hand made poppies are each added to the memorial on the anniversary of the death of the serviceman they commemorate.

Poppy day, more correctly Remembrance Day seems to cause some controversy these days. Most recently I saw that someone had said they thought it was glorifying war. What poppycock.

Maybe I should say before continuing that I was born after World War 2. Like the great majority of people today, I have no direct experience of war beyond news reports so also like them I will probably never understand it’s full horrors and sacrifices.

My father was a conscripted soldier who served in Burmah in WW2. He was not killed or injured but he never spoke of his wartime experiences to anyone I know of, in or outside our family.

I choose to wear a poppy though many will not, that is their choice. I wish they would wear a poppy. I will not run them down, argue with or insult them for not doing so. Nor do I expect someone who does not wear a poppy to lambast me for wearing one.

We live in a free country, where we can choose to wear or not the poppy, freedom fought for by the men for whom the poppy is worn. The Independent newspaper asked “when does the time come to shift the emphasis away from the past and into the present? My answer is that the poppy is the present.

What kind of country would we be living in if we had lost those terrible wars? We almost certainly would not have the freedom we enjoy now. We are not just remembering the dead. We are remembering what they did for us, why they gave their lives to give us a free country to be proud of. Suppose Hitler had won the war. Imagine the kind of regime  we could be living under now.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

From Laurence Binyon’s poem, For The Fallen. These lines form the fourth verse, though apparently they were the first to be written.

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No Passion For Fashion

Even if it’s green, it’s not eco. friendly.

As I write, it’s London Fashion Week, which is a misnomer as it only runs from 21st to 24th September. It’s when designers and fashion houses show off, er, I mean showcase their latest clothing designs. Designs that will make a lot of money for the designers, some money for the manufacturers and some for the cheap-jack makers of copies.

What the new designs almost certainly won’t do is be kind to the environment. The fashion industry relies on making people discontent with what they are wearing, so that they can be sold something else.

It doesn’t matter that most of today’s clothes are still perfectly wearable, there is a drive to sell the consumer something else. The latest, completely unnecessary, fashion to suck in the gullible who are too afraid to resist peer pressure, to wear what they want instead of what they are persuaded they want. Fashion seems to me to bea parasitic industry, preying on insecurity in people trying to ‘fit in’, instead of having individuality.

No matter what the industry may say, fashion is consumption and it is not eco-friendly. Even if it is using re-cycled material, it is likely to be unnecessary recycling of useable clothing. Remember that while the material might be reusable, energy is still used in the recycling process.

To be eco friendly the cycle should be reduce, re-use, recycle. I suspect the fashion industry, when it does make a token effort at being green, jumps direct to the recycle option. It never reduces, that would hit profits and it doesn’t want us to reuse, when we can spend money buying something else.

A New Heaven And a New Earth

Are they one and the same?

In The Bible’s book of Genesis, humankind are given “dominion” over the plantet upon which we live. At the end of The Bible, in Revelation, we are told of “a new heaven and a new earth”, which are also the final words of the book Unveiling a Parallel. which I reviewed here, that inspired this post.

At the end of the Unveiling a Parallel story, the unnamed traveller to the planet Mars saw in the society of that planet what could be a different way of living for the humanity of this Earth. He came to appreciate how the people of Mars lived an idyll; a new heaven. Or, what could be heaven like if Earth’s humanity could learn to live peacefully together.

Earth’s humanity has taken “dominion” as giving ourselves the right to exploit the planet, usually for profit. We have forgotten that dominion also confers responsibility to respect and protect, to manage and steward Earth’s resources in a way that does not harm the planet. We have ignored these inconvenient aspects of dominion.

Humankind has taken oil and coal, metals and minerals from planet Earth with little regard to the consequences. We have poisoned great tracts with chemicals and pumped greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. We have cut down great swathes of the trees that make the oxygen we breathe. Ee face global warming and an uncertain future, largely due to our quest for profit, which ignores the inconvenient truths.

What if, taking Revelation as as a illustration, a new parable maybe, the new heaven and new earth were one and the same?

The traveller to Mars sees a society, and a way of living, that he perceives as a potential heaven on Earth, if only we people of planet Earth could overcome our petty squabbles, wars, injustice, violence and exploitation of the the Earth’s resources for profit.

What might be our new heaven and new earth? Could the new heaven and new earth be one and the same? We are, albeit slowly, beginning to realise the harm we are are doing to our planet. The only planet we know that can support human life.

Could it be that if we fully realise the extent of our destruction of the planet, it is not too late to do something about it?

It took millions of years for planet Earth to evolve to a human habitable environment. It took only a few hundred to strip it and damage it, to its present state. As with everything, damage to the planet was inflicted much, much faster than its evolution and our ability to repair that damage.

But suppose for a moment we do repair the damage. It will probably take generations; thousands of years to return it to the state it took hundreds to bring to its current state. If all the people of the planet started tomorrow to repair the damage, it would take generations to repair and recover but at the end of it all, our descendants could once again live on a clean, fecund planet. Perhaps a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Unveiling a Parallel

By Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant, published 1893.

Once again I find myself adding a book review to my Christian themed blog, before I add it to my book review blog. I add it here because of the comparisons Unveiling A Parallel draws with Christianity.

Unveiling A Parallel is billed as a romance. Some might say it is science fiction, as it is set on the planet Mars. Some would call it feminist literature, if the term “feminist” existed in 1893. I describe Unveiling A Parallel as social-science fiction, that just happens to be set on another planet.

Remember as you continue that Unveiling a Parallel was published more than a century ago. The society in which the protagonist finds himself is still a stratified society, in which there are rich and poor, servants and masters, characteristic of the era in which the story was written.

The reader is not told at any point the protagonist’s name, or how he comes to be on Mars. The story begins at his arrival on the red planet.  It goes on to recount his experiences with the “Marsians” whilst amongst the people.

The Marsian people are humans, who have evolved entirely independently of the humans of our planet Earth. The differences between the peoples are in intellects and social orders, not in any physical aspect that defines a human being.

The traveller’s male pre-conceptions, of how a society should function, based on his patriarchal Earth background in a male dominated society, are challenged from soon after his arrival on Mars.  As he begins to get to know Mars’ people, he finds an egalitarian, equal society where the female of the species is the equal of the male socially and morally, without needing legislation to achieve it.

It is also interesting to see the protagonist’s observations on religion, specifically Christianity, as he begins to come to terms with the “Marsian” society in which he finds himself.

Unveiling A Parallel is not SciFi in the form that readers of such as Asimov, E E Doc Smith or Larry Niven would probably appreciate. It is, to a greater extent, commentary on the differences between societies, that have evolved in different places, under different conditions and traditions.

“You worship the man – the God, if you will, –
instead of that for which he stood.”: – Severnius.

Brexit

One Christian’s Point Of View.

The United Kingdom, for it still is at least nominally united, is a country in which the majority of citizens are no longer practicing Christians. That same majority does share a Christian heritage, and almost all of our law is based upon Christian principals.

One year after the Brexit referendum, I am struggling to see how those principals are being applied both to our European neighbours, it is probably no longer correct to call them our partners, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, to our own descendants.

At a personal and individual level, the majority of UK citizens still tend to behave in a fairly Christian manner. Corporately as a nation, we seem to have become self obsessed and selfish. We want what we want and do not care what anyone else wants. At least not the 27 other, soon to be, remaining members of the European Union.

Might the UK have inadvertently done a little harm, primarily to itself, that resulted in a greater good? As a country, we have single handedly succeeded in uniting 27 other member states into a closer union against a former friend.

I find it disingenuous that our politicians and leaders continue to refer to Europeans as “our friends” when nationally we have behaved and are continuing to behave toward them in such an unfriendly manner. It is to their credit that they remain friendly to us, if no longer actually friends.

It appears that one of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, for the vote to exit the EU is the issue of immigration. What has happened to our Christian principals of welcoming the stranger? We need immigration. We need it for our NHS, which without immigrants would not function.

We need immigrant workers for farms and care services, because too many of our citizens seem to think themselves too good for what they see as such menial tasks, yet they still moan that immigrants are taking British jobs.

I think that in some peoples minds refugees are little different to immigrants. We conveniently forget, unless somehow directly and personally confronted by refugees, the vast difference between simply trying to improve ones situation and fleeing war, famine, oppression, torture, injustice leaving everything behind apart from the clothes they stand up in.

The current Brexit related debate is regarding the rights of EU citizens to stay in Britain, those that wish to, after Brexit is final. The Christian, human, reasonable and caring action to take would be to unilaterally guarantee the existing rights of all who opt to stay. It would also be an excellent gesture of goodwill for the forthcoming negotiations.

UK is, at the time of writing, the fifth biggest economy in the world; sixth if the EU is treated as a single economy. A large part of our prosperity is due to our membership of the European Union, even though we are a net contributor to its budget. Immigrants helped build our economy so we owe them a quid pro quo for that. Will UK still be so prosperous one year after Brexit? Our economy is less than one fifth the size of that of the EU and one seventh of USA USA. We need EU, to secure good trade deals with bigger economies, more than they need us.

British politicians talk about Brexit as the will of the people. I can’t and wont deny the democracy of leaving the EU, it was a vote in favour of leaving. It was hardly an overwhelming margin voting to leave at 52% to 48%. Leavers consider it a victory. I cannot. I can question if there should have been a referendum at all.

In a democracy politicians are elected not just to carry out the will of the people but to do what is best for the nation they are supposed to serve. Unfortunately what is best, or necessary is frequently not popular That includes taking difficult decisions. Those decisions are frequently taken on the basis of information to which the population is not privy.

In the case of Brexit, I think politicians abrogated their responsibility to the referendum, instead of taking decisions they were elected to take. The British public gave the politicians a perfect scaprgoat; the British public.

Brexit does not affect only Britain. Brexit affects 27 other countries detrimentally. Even if I were not looking at this from a Christian perspective, I cannot see any basic decency, respect and fairness with which we have should have treated our neighbours?

In a few years Britain could become to Europe like the Isle Of Wight it to Britain; a quaint little place to visit but mostly ignored.

Tactical Voting.

Is the parties approach fair to voters?

I’ve noticed that the news media conflate Tactical Voting, with what I will call Tactical Candidature.  So let me begin with my definitions:

Tactical Voting: Is where an elector, a person chooses to cast their vote to someone other than their preferred candidate. The aim being to deny the most likely candidate a win, when the voter’s preferred candidate has little chance.

Tactical Candidature: Is when political parties collude, some parties not putting up candidates in particular constituencies. The aim being to re-direct their electors votes to another particular candidate.

I have no objection to any voter casting their own vote in what they consider to be a tactical manner. It is in fact a duty for each of us to consider how best to use our vote. It is also perfectly reasonable for the campaigning parties to urge us to vote tactically, for another candidate. That does not limit choice.

I am a bit uneasy about what I have called Tactical Candidature. In Tactical Candidature a elector’s ability to vote for their preferred candidate, or to tactically vote for a different candidate, is artificially restricted. The parties have colluded to remove voters choice. Instead of an elector choosing to vote tactically, it is forced upon them. Is this fair to the electorate? Is it properly democratic?

The Final Justice

Here in the UK, everyone accused of of a crime is entitled to a trial by jury. The jury consisting of 12 people. In my limited knowledge of the American system, there are also 12 jurors for criminal trials, but may be less for civil proceedings.

It seems to me that the biggest single difference in our justice systems is that (at the time of writing) 31 states have the death penalty available as a lawful punishment. There is no death penalty in the United Kingdom.

From this BBC news report (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39535957), I discovered that it is a requirement for executions in America that “the law requires people with no connection to the crime attend each execution.” and that volunteers “are considered public eyewitnesses, and go to executions standing in the place of the general public,”

Sitting on a jury, if eligible, is every citizen’s responsibility in both countries, when required to do so in pursuit of justice in a free and democratic country. So, in countries like USA where the death penalty can be passed on a guilty criminal, why isn’t witnessing the ultimate punishment also a civic duty?

In a country/state where execution is a legal punishment, it seems to me reasonable that anyone who can be called upon for jury service, should also be able to be called to witness punishment where that is the death penalty? Obviously, not someone who was a juror at the trial of someone sentenced to execution.

If anyone who can be selected for jury service is also eligible to be selected to watch taking life by execution, I wonder how it might change public perception of having the death penalty?