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Use the intelligence, free will God gave us

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Thurs Mar 28, 2013

“Justice hath fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason.”– [Julius Caesar, Act III Scene 2, Anthony speaking.]

Editor: When men have lost their reason, then any interpretation may be put upon any statement.

Let me put certain things on the table. First of all, I am straight in every sense of that word. Secondly, I believe I belong in a society where most men are straight. Thirdly, I am committed to the practice of democracy, which implies, among other things, that our laws are consistent with the majority will of the people.{{more}} Put these three principles together then it follows that our society is unlikely to reflect the will of any minority group in the society.

On the other hand, we are under pressure from internal and external sources to amend certain of our cultural norms and to give to one minority group – homosexuals – privileges they currently lack. Most of us have sensitivities and traditional attitudes, supported in our laws and in our religion, that regard homosexuality as a perversion. The contrary argument is that those who practise homosexuality are human beings who should be accorded the same rights as others.

The first question is: are they being denied human rights, and if so, which? They would like to proclaim their homosexuality openly, and not be prosecuted if found committing what we call buggery. They would also like to raise children and influence succeeding generations to regard homosexual behaviour as a legitimate option.

They have the right to proclaim their homosexuality openly – the legal and constitutional right. But those who do not like their sexual orientation are not lacking in rights. They have the right to state their objections to homosexual practices, and to protect their children from this new influence; and also to socialise them in traditional ways. It is up to homosexuals to provide convincing arguments against tradition and against having buggery as a criminal offence.

Heterosexuals – that is to say, normal folk – do not have to prove or disprove any amendment. It is their duty to listen to the arguments of minorities, to weigh them, and to decide whether they merit us changing our ways and laws. It is those wanting change who have to make the proposals and – so to speak – to market them.

The USA is possibly the leading society in the world trying to build a nation based upon the equal application of law to every citizen. Its very foundation made a symbolic break away from a society where status – and therefore rights and privileges – were ascribed at birth. Recently, the Federal government ran afoul of the sentiments of many when they sought to abolish prayers, icons and the like from public institutions.

What they were doing was laying the foundation for a truly secular society. Most of the time, this means nothing to us, until we join the chorus of those who declaim against the Muslim Brotherhood in North Africa, the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, Ayatollahs in Iran, and Jewish religious fundamentalists in Israel. These and similar groups want a theocratic and not a secular society. By removing Christian prayers and iconography from public buildings and events, the US is sending a message that other religions have the same rights as Christians under the law, and undercuts any future tendencies from other religious groups to demand the treatment that Christians have traditionally enjoyed. A truly secular state cannot show partiality to any religion – not even what some call the one true faith. Muslims and Jews, for example, do not regard their faith as in anyway inferior to that of Christians.

We in SVG have to adopt the same approach to governance. Laws, over time, have to shed their religious origins, and find basis in human rationality. Moses is not our leader, and his writ cannot form a basis for our legal system.

The influence of scriptures in a society such as ours has to be through its effect on how we are socialised. It is part of our heritage, integral to how we think. And how we think will influence how we organise our society and govern ourselves. There must, however, be a free flow of ideas, including those that challenge our core values. A man, expressing a contrary point of view, is not to be disrespected, demeaned or demonised. He must be heard and his arguments discussed rationally. This is the essence of democracy. God gave us intelligence and free will, and he expects us to use them. It is up to us to organise ourselves so that everyone has the same chance to learn, for all to become as educated as possible, and to build upon that foundation a just and civil society.

Cedric B Harold
cbharold@cwjamaica.com:

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