Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Did Einstein have a better idea of what's good for our kids than fundamentalist scientists, or the wretched Brown government?
How do we get rid of Tory-Labour Tribal politics? Lee Bryant in the Independent has some suggestions.
We are lucky to have a stable and relatively functional political system in the UK, for all the recent drama, and we should avoid throwing away that heritage in pursuit of change for its own sake.
But in addition to the obvious short-term challenge of rebuilding faith in our political and economic system, we face some difficult long-term issues that require 21st century solutions.
Faced with the plunder of the banks, their answer has been to bail out the bankers and hope (again) for trickle down effects, rather than invest in people and services to create value and wealth. They have spectacularly failed to deal with both boom and bust, and they continue pulling their big 20th century levers despite the fact these are no longer working. Although the government realises the internet has a key role to play, the recent Digital Britain report shows
just how little they understand the online world. Aside from the obvious conclusion that universal broadband (which should be 8Mb as a minimum) is a necessary enabler to an inclusive digital economy, the report seems firmly located in the 1990s world of ‘content providers’, copyright restrictions and network operators. We need to show the political elite what to do, and get on with fixing things before they get much worse.
Over the past decade, we have learned a lot about how network thinking and specifically the social web can dramatically reduce the costs of co-ordination and collective action, allowing new ways of involving people in organisational, democratic or social processes. Many people have argued that government and industry should take advantage of these innovations to create more people-powered organisations. Now, in the face of serious crises in both the economy and the political system, and in the middle of a recession that calls into question whether we can even afford ‘business as usual’, it is time to take a serious look at how we can leverage human talent, energy and creativity to begin rebooting the system to create sustainable, affordable, long-term mechanisms for public engagement.
We have been talking about e-government for years, and have made steady progress with some of the enablers, such as online service provision, the Government Gateway and a growing awareness among civil servants about online public engagement. But so far, this work has remained very much within existing organisational boundaries. It has focused on how to enable communication and limited interaction between government and citizens, but has not yet changed either the workings of government or the role of citizens in that process.
To read the full link click on the link
My comment: The key is to enable the politically alienated to have a vision of an alternative and see the things they can do to create that alternative. What is the vision? What are the understanding and tools that we all need to effect real, positive change?
The new media will play a major part - the formula of accumulated anger x expenses scandal x new media = a degree of complexity the like of which I've not previously seen.
Monday, 29 June 2009
"Stand by Me" On June 24, Iranian Superstar Andy Madadian went into an LA recording studio with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and American record producers Don Was and John Shanks to record a musical message of worldwide solidarity with the people of Iran.
"Stand by Me" On June 24, Iranian Superstar Andy Madadian went into an LA recording studio with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and American record producers Don Was and John Shanks to record a musical message of worldwide solidarity with the people of Iran.
This version of the old Ben E. King classic is not for sale - it was not meant to be on the Billboard charts or even manufactured as a CD.....it's intended to be downloaded and shared by the Iranian people...to give voice to the sentiment that all people of the world stand together....the handwritten Farsi sign in the video translates to "we are one".
If you know someone in Iran - or someone who knows someone in Iran -
please share this link
CREDITS: STAND BY ME Andy - Vocals Jon Bon Jovi - Vocals Richie Sambora - Electric Guitar and Vocals John Shanks - Acoustic Guitar Don Was - Bass Patrick Leonard - Keyboards Jeff Rothchild - Drums Tiffany Madadian and Nikki Lund - Background Vocals Produced by Don Was & John Shanks Recorded and Mixed by Jeff Rothchild at Henson Studio C, Hollywood, CA June 24, 2009 Thanks to Faryal Ganjehei Written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller Farsi lyric by Paksima Zakipour Video Edited by Gemma Corfield Mastered by Stephen Marcussen
I like the definition of art, given by Richard Anderson;
Art is culturally significant meaning, skilfully encoded in an affecting, sensuous medium. I would want to add that art = the products of the imaginative power to re-present subjectively not only the world around us, but also inevitably the life of our inner world of consciousness. I would also say that the definition should include 'and personally' so that it reads; Art is culturally, and personally, significant meaning, skilfully encoded in an affecting, sensuous medium. If it doesn't connect for you - it ain't art for you. (Sometimes we have to make an effort.) Art then always says something important about the human condition and, what it says, it says re-presentationally, that is via the subjective experience and viewpoint of the artist – using whatever is the chosen medium. It says; ‘this is how I experienced, or feel about, or see, or 'read' this phenomenon’.
Art is culturally significant meaning, skilfully encoded in an affecting, sensuous medium.
I would want to add that
the products of the imaginative power
to re-present subjectively not only the world around us,
but also inevitably the life of our inner world of consciousness.
I would also say that the definition should include 'and personally' so that it reads;
Art is culturally, and personally, significant meaning, skilfully encoded in an affecting, sensuous medium.
If it doesn't connect for you - it ain't art for you. (Sometimes we have to make an effort.)
Art then always says something important about the human condition and, what it says, it says re-presentationally, that is via the subjective experience and viewpoint of the artist – using whatever is the chosen medium. It says;
‘this is how I experienced, or feel about, or see, or 'read' this phenomenon’.
Art then is truth expression in the 'I' voice - as opposed to scientific truth which is in the 'IT' voice (Sciences), and the moral truth of the 'WE' voice (Humanities).
Getting these mixed up is the cause of almost all of the world's troubles. Why?
Because they are three separate ways of truth-telling. All are valid.
But they are limited because we need all three. If you try to work one in ways that rightfully belong to one of the other ways of truth-telling you get a monster - such as fundamentalism.
Of course fundamentalism is characterised by a range of factors including failure to recognise that metaphor trumps literalism, absolutist thinking, failure to recognize most holy scripture can only give approximate renditions of what was said, inability to proceed with live and let live, low tolerance to doubt and uncertainty....................
Art and religion are the same in that they are accounts of an inner journey or an encounter - all such accounts are failures, some are glorious failures.
Why failures? Well because they are inevitably metaphorical accounts of experiences that are literally ineffable. Poets as well as people of religion try to express the experience, but the breaking point is the uniqueness of the subject, and subjectivity, that has had the experience.
Religion goes bad when spiritual-mystical accounts become tidied-up as ideologies - followed by a zealous few who decide that it is good to impose the ideology on others.
Most religions are dead husks of dogma from which the living inspiration has gone.
Fundamentalism is the constantly ramped-up desperation to impose deadened dogma on others.
When we try to deal with art or the spiritual-mystical scientifically we get scientism, or crude bean-counting.
Religion inevitably is supposed to be entirely subjective - the ineffable can't be otherwise.
But the subjective, or heart-knowing, is a form of truth-telling, one that comes via consciousness and common compassionate humanity.
From this rising consciousness, and common compassionate humanity, we come to distinguish between the great seers and poets and mystics and the charlatans.
The great mystics and the great artists are there to reveal and inspire - via the compassionate bond of being human, in the world with others.
Right action of course must flow from the inspired being and revelation - 'Ye shall know them by their fruit.'
I don't care if you believe in fairies and space-ships - so long as you are just and bring to the world some goodness, truth and beauty - preferably with a good dose of humour.
Without right action even if we are a bishop or mulla or guru we are hypocrites.
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Frank Furedi in his 2006 article HERE says that the big question today is not whether humans will survive the twenty-first century, but whether our faith in humanity will survive it.
Renewing our faith in people
How we view humanity really matters. If we insist on seeing humans as morally degraded parasites, then every significant technical problem from the millennium bug to the avian flu will be feared as a potential catastrophe beyond our control. Today's intellectual pessimism and cultural disorientation distracts the human imagination from confronting challenges that lie ahead. All the talk about human survival expresses a crisis of belief in humanity - and that is why the real question today is not whether humanity will survive the twenty-first century, but whether our belief in humanity can survive it.
He has assembled a powerful negative argument, but is less successful on assembling positives.
My own positive lies in always balancing teaching the technical with the context of what it means to be human. From kindergartens to MA professional studies courses we should assert that we are human in our Caring, our Creativity and Criticality, and that we give and receive these in the various forms of humanity to which we belong.
Regrettably Spiked Essays appears to have been permanently spiked.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
The debate over animal welfare is misguided. Where human need clashes with animal rights, humans must take precedence.
By Ian Dunt
This week MEPs in the European parliament voted to allow the continued slaughter of animals under Muslim and Jewish practises – called halal and shechita respectively.
There is an animal welfare argument in all this. Religious commentators say the more traditional techniques used by their respective faith are actually more humane than the mass-production methods used across Britain. Animal rights activists cite the lack of a stun gun in the process, which instantly makes the animal unconscious before slaughter.
Both these stances leave me distinctly unmoved. I remain entirely indifferent to the suffering of animals as a political issue. That's not to advocate cruelty. I would, of course, like all animals to be killed as humanely as scientifically possible. They should never undergo any further suffering than that necessary to support human needs. But when it comes to weighing animal rights and human needs, there's no contest.
There is a certain cruelty in many animal rights activists – and their sympathisers – who value animal life to the point where they, consciously or subconsciously, rate it over humans.
Click on link to read article.
MY COMMENT: If we made a good job of teaching what it is to be fully and positively human the care of animals would rise massively.
Feeling zapped - where has Holism gone in our Twitteristic world? Where is that which makes a whole of Twit-bits?
Holism (from ὅλος holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave.
Where is that which makes a whole of Twit-bits?
A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being:
A Challenge to Positive Psychology?
Adrian G. White, University of Leicester
Rarely in recent years has a development in the field of academic psychology captured such widespread attention as the current developments in positive psychology on the topic of happiness. Whilst academic investigation of something as intangible as happiness may seem at first surprising the age long search for happiness, a primary motive of human behaviour, has ensured a broader audience than psychologists usually attract.
The search for happiness is not new and neither is academic interest in the topic. In 1776 the American Declaration of Independence argued for “certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (The American Declaration of Independence, 1776, as cited in Hawke, 1964). As such, nations have been formed on the basis of the search for happiness, and this desire has been put on a par with the right to life and the right to freedom. In the U.K. interest in happiness was brought to widespread attention with the moral philosophy of Jeremy Bentham (1789) who argued that the purpose of politics should be to bring the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people.
Political interest in happiness has not diminished in modern times. A recent survey (Easton, 2006) found that 81% of the UK population agreed that the Government’s primary objective should be the creation of happiness not wealth. Earlier this year David Cameron, HM Leader of the Opposition, put happiness firmly on the political agenda by arguing that “It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money, and it’s time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB – general well-being" (BBC, 2006).
Click on link to read article
University of Leicester Produces the first ever World Map of Happiness
Happiness is ...being Healthy, Wealthy and Wise
A University of Leicester psychologist has produced the first ever ‘world map of happiness.’
Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist at the University’s School of Psychology, analysed data published by UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR, to create a global projection of subjective well-being: the first world map of happiness.
The projection, which is to be published in a Psychtalk in March 2007, will be presented at a conference later in the year. Participants in the various studies were asked questions related to happiness and satisfaction with life. The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide. For this study data has also been analysed in relation to health, wealth and access to education.
Whilst collecting data on subjective well-being is not an exact science, the measures used are very reliable in predicting health and welfare outcomes. It can be argued that whilst these measures are not perfect they are the best we have so far, and these are the measures that politicians are talking of using to measure the relative performance of each country.
The researchers have argued that regular testing as a collaboration between academics in different countries would enable us to track changes in happiness, and what events may cause that. For example what effect would a war, or famine, or national success have on a country's members' happiness.
Click on link to read the article
How do you measure happiness?
Denmark ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world.
The Danes must be doing something right. In 2008, Denmark ranked as the happiest nation on the planet, according to the World Map of Happiness and the World Values Survey. The same year, the Scandinavian country came in at No. 2 on the World Database of Happiness, barely beat out by nearby Iceland. These happiness surveys polled people around the globe on -- you guessed it -- how happy and satisfied they are with life. Folks in Denmark showed an impressively high degree of social connections, career satisfaction and political and economic stability -- all of which are known to promote happiness [source: Weir and Johnson].
But what does it even mean that the Danish consider themselves happier than a lot of other people around the world? What were the surveys measuring, exactly? According to Webster, happiness is "a state of well-being and contentment." That emotional state the dictionary refers to is arguably different for everyone. At the same time, we know the physical effects of happiness; humans smile and laugh as a natural sign of glee. Certain physiological reactions, such as increased activity in the brain's left prefrontal lobe and decreased amounts of cortisol (a stress hormone) coursing through the bloodstream, happen when we're happy.
Yet, those physical indications of happiness are temporary, just like the feeling of pleasure fades after watching a heart-warming film with friends or opening a birthday present. Evaluating happiness in terms of consistently finding fulfillment in the sum of life's events is harder to grasp. Someone can't communicate it with a single grin or giggle. Consequently, researchers wishing to measure happiness have to go straight to the source.
To read the article click on the link.
Its Nature and Its Attainment
MICHAEL W. FORDYCE, Ph.D.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME I : THE NATURE OF HAPPINESS
VOLUME II: THE ATTAINMENT OF HAPPINESS
* * * * * * * * * * *
BIBLIOGRAPHIES TO THE VOLUMES
There are two cross-referenced bibliographies to these Volumes: one provides references in alphabetical order -- the other in numerical order (matching reference numbers appearing in the text).
Smelled a Rose Today?? -- Why Not?
----- The achievement of lasting happiness depends on our ability to understand and to align ourselves with the true nature of objective reality.
Epicurus showed us the way: He concluded that Happiness is rooted in the elimination of pain and the achievement of tranquility. ------- Modern psychology confirms his ideas and provides further insights by correlating the pain/happiness syndrome with evolutionary psychology. ------ Man now has the knowledge, and the choice, to free himself from the slavery of obsolete icons.
Before we can achieve happiness by closely aligning ourselves with Objective Reality, we must clearly understand the true nature of Objective Reality --- we must understand how the world really works --- even if we have to demolish a few "icons" and other popular misconceptions.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
93% of Americans have a Bible.1 Only half of Americans can even name one of the Gospels.1 The majority of Americans don’t know that Genesis is the first book of the Bible.1 60% of evangelicals think Jesus was born in Jerusalem rather than Bethlehem.1 22% of high school students think Moses was one of Jesus’ disciples.1 Half of High School seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple.1 1 in 10 Americans believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.1 60% of Americans can’t name 5 of the ten commandments.1 Given thirteen basic teachings from the Bible, only 1% of adult believers embraced all thirteen as being biblical perspectives.2 One-third of college attending Christians could not put the following in order: Abraham, the Old Testament prophets, the death of Christ, and Pentecost.3 One-third could also not identify Matthew as an apostle from a list of New Testament names.3
Ok, OK - there was one I wasn't sure about!
Alan and Ann Keen, the Labour MPs nicknamed "Mr and Mrs Expenses", face the repossession of the house they have designated as their main home with the Commons authorities because it appears to be unoccupied.
Although the couple's family home is only 10 miles and a 30-minute commute from Westminster, they claimed almost £39,000 between them from the taxpayer last year to run a flat in central London.
The threat of repossession will raise new question marks over the Keens' expenses claims because MPs are supposed to spend the majority of their time at the property they have told the authorities is their main home.
See link for full story
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Critics Slam Digital Britain Report
A long-awaited road map for the U.K.'s tech future drew fire from opponents of a proposed broadband tax and of efforts to curtail illegal file-sharing
By David Meyer
The Digital Britain report has drawn criticism from politicians and technology experts over its proposals for dealing with fibre rollouts and illegal file-sharing.
The report, published on Tuesday, outlines the government's plans for the UK's telecommunications infrastructure and digital economy. Shortly after its publication, Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative Party's shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, called Digital Britain a "colossal disappointment" and lambasted the plan's proposal for a monthly 50p tax on fixed copper lines.
MY COMMENT: As with jobs for the vulnerable/disabled there should be a 'social cost' subsidization, e.g. via tax relief to the ISPs, so that those who live in 'black-spots' are helped. If it is left to the market/ISPs many will never get fast broadband.
Go to BusinessWeek link to read the article.
Why does Britain sexualise its young?Wed Jun 24 12:53PMBritish primary school children are becoming increasingly sexualised, while our over-emotional response to paedophilia grows by the day. When did we get so confused?
By Ian Dunt
Ofsted issued a warning today about the level of sexualisation among primary school children. It found recently suspended pupils as young as four were guilty of touching other children inappropriately and using sexually graphic language.
The watchdog's concerns are entirely justified, but there is a certain irony to the fact they were reported on the same day Rebecca Wade was promoted to the head of News International from her former position as editor of the Sun. Wade's career hit its first political storm in 2001, when, as editor of the News of the World, she named and shamed convicted paedophiles, resulting in mob attacks and the hospitalisation of a paediatrician. The chief constable of Gloucestershire called it "grossly irresponsible journalism" - which is exactly what it was - but she earned herself 95,000 new readers a week.
These twin stories highlight something malign and twisted in our relationship with children. Wade's decision to publish the list of paedophiles is a product of something I have written about before - our cultural habit of treating childhood as an unrealistically innocent and angelic time. This sentiment leads us to adopt a borderline psychotic approach to the problem of paedophilia.
MY COMMENT Because it is immature both in relation to sexuality and to the needs of children and because we allow newspapers to titillate endlessly instead of dealing with issues seriously.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Friday, 19 June 2009
I received this -
If you don't want to be in the UK directory for mobile numbers which will go live next week, you can get yourself ex-directory by going to the website mentioned below:
This comes from a reliable source and has been checked out!
> The Directory of Mobile Phone numbers goes live next week. All numbers
> including those belonging to children will be open to cold calling.
> To remove your number go here.
I haven't checked it out yet - hope it makes good its promise.
To commemorate Aung San Suu Kyi's 64th birthday on 19 June (her 14th in detention), local and Burmese citizens will be holding protests and events in over 20 cities across the world, calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the 2,156 political prisoners currently held in Burma/Myanmar. The protesters will also be calling on the United Nations Security Council to step up the pressure on the military regime by establishing a global arms embargo on Burma/Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Kyi is currently being prosecuted by the authorities in Burma/Myanmar for violating the terms of her house arrest, after an American man swam across a lake to visit her house in early May. For this, she faces up to five years imprisonment.
Paul McCartney and others add their voices:
Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and other celebrities will be making special 64-word statements commemorating Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday. These statements will be available at www.64forSuu.org. Other celebrities that have sent messages include George Clooney, David Beckham, Julia Roberts, Daniel Craig and Richard Branson. Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard, Kevin Spacey and Sarah Brown have been 'tweeting' about the campaign.
The international protests and events will be using a new image of Aung San Suu Kyi released to mark her 64th birthday. A high resolution version of the image is available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39385533@N03/sets/72157619730230177/detail/
Please send your '64 words' of birthday greeting to this brave democratic leader - here - http://www.64forsuu.org./add.php
Thursday, 18 June 2009
How did this blessed man achieve justice in his head and heart? What was his journey?
What an astonishing rarity - would the other 98% of the Moslem majority please stand up and take back Islam from the extremists!
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Barack Obama's swatted fly not normal says the 'George W Bush Centre for Truth, Reconciliaition and Democratic Studies'
Dr Ivor Redknock-Satyr from the George W Bush Centre for Truth, Reconciliation and Democratic Studies today claimed they had incontrovertible proof that the fly swatted by Barack Obama was drugged, specially trained or in fact a previously unseen minature drone;
Dr Redknock-Satyr was previously in charge of the CIA unit that discovered the presence of WMD in Iraq.
Pat Condell -
Category: Religion and PhilosophyHere is the text of his interview with the Bosnian news periodical Magazine Start BiH
Q: Is secularism in danger today and is it more dangerous to be Muslim or atheist in Great Britain today?
A: Yes, secularism is in danger, but fortunately more and more people are realising it and speaking out. The current British government panders shamelessly to religion, especially to Islam, because there are votes in it, but the British people are not as apathetic as they used to be, and many are now waking up to the real threat that religion poses to their freedom.
Britain is not a particularly dangerous country, but if you criticise Islam, whether you're Muslim, atheist, Christian or anything else, you'll be inundated with death threats.
Q: Religious leaders in Bosnia present our type of Islam as a best possible type of Islam for Europe because it is moderate and is not extreme by their opinion. How well do you know Islam in Bosnia and is there, by your opinion, type of Islam which is the best for secular society and can religion dogma and tolerance exist together at the same time?
A: I'm not familiar with Islam in Bosnia, but I think the best form of any religion is one that doesn't try to force its values and beliefs on others. Religious dogma is intolerant and unreasonable, and I believe it should be kept out of public life entirely. All religion should be kept out of schools, and women should be free to dress however they like and to be whoever they want to be without any interference from men.
To read the full interview go here
Just llisten to this disgraceful atheist stuff - Pat Condell's Godless Comedy - he sharpens up my religious belief
Pat Condell's Godless ComedyToo lazy and stupid to think for yourself? Welcome to Jesus country.
Who are the most important thinkers for people of religion? Of course it's the atheists. Pat Condell has a razor-sharp 'sword of truth' which might well enable you as a person of religion to sort the wheat from the chaff.
He's also very, very funny - if you have a very wide definition of human and are able to laugh at yourself and all the antics we get up to in our belief systems. (Strong stuff - be warned - he gets you thinking outside of your box.)
Some interesting fact about Fair Voting (Proportional Representation);
Monday, 15 June 2009
Sir Alan Sugar, the government's new "enterprise tsar" (calling him "captain of the enterprise" would have been more fun) could lose his TV show if the Tories get their way. Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, reckons BBC rules would be broken if Sugar continued to front The Apprentice while working for the government.
Apparently, presenters of BBC shows are supposed to be impartial. I'm not entirely clear what that means. It is sensible that people presenting programmes shouldn't secretly be in the pay of McDonald's, Ukip or the Pipe Smoker of the Year organisation. But presenters are allowed to appear in adverts, so it seems that some transparent partiality is OK (thank God).
No one's afraid that Gary Lineker is covertly putting a cheese and oniony spin on the football results.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
This is the intro to a transcript - SEE end of this i.e. MY COMMENT to go to source
What's required to foster better relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West? Two Muslims - Irshad Manji & Mehmet Ozalp - give their points of view.
Irshad Manji is the author of The Trouble With Islam. She calls for change in Islam to conform with the values of Western democratic societies. Mehmet Ozalp is the President of Affinity Intercultural Foundation, which recently held a conference in Sydney on "Islam and Its Relations with the Other."
MUSICI'll just give you a minute or two to pretty much observe the domes, observe the calligraphy, the Qur'anic verses, the patterns on the wall and so forth, just for you to have a bit of a look, and then I'll start hopefully explaining some of them.
Rachael Kohn: An Open Day at Gallipoli Mosque in Auburn, New South Wales.
Hello, and welcome to 'Something's Gotta Give: What does it take for Muslims and other Australians to foster a better relationship?'
This is The Spirit of Things on ABC Radio National, with me, Rachael Kohn.With the dress requirements there is dress requirements both for males and females. OK, and I'm just going to go through the minimal requirements for both a male and a female.
The minimal dress requirement for a male is from the navel to below the knee area; that is the minimal requirement for a Muslim male. The minimal requirement for a Muslim female is exposure of hands, face and feet. Now some say don't include feet on that list, but you do have certain areas where opinions will differ.
Now for a Muslim woman, she is required when she comes to a certain age, usually the age of puberty, to pretty much dress the way that I'm dressing, to start fulfilling the dress obligations, or the dress requirements that is expected of her. OK. Now one of the sole reasons why we do it, OK, which is probably one of the most commonsense reasons, is because it's a commandment from God.
Rachael Kohn: In the larger community, you could say there's a stand-off between Muslims and non-Muslims. Fear, disdain and ignorance have kept both sides at arm's length. For Mehmet Ozalp, a second generation Australian Muslim, education is the answer. We'll hear more from him later in the program.
Rachael Kohn: My first guest goes much further, in calling for a reform of Islam itself. Irshad Manji, a Canadian Muslim visiting Australia for the Melbourne Writers' Festival, believes that it is not only Islam, but democracy, free thought and human rights, which are at stake.
When I spoke to her earlier in the year about her book, The Trouble With Islam, Irshad revealed that her life had been threatened on many occasions for speaking out as she has. I'm pleased to say there was no need for bodyguards when she came to the ABC.
Irshad Manji, welcome to The Spirit of Things.
Irshad Manji: Thanks for having me.
Rachael Kohn: It's great to have you back on the show again. Six months ago, your book had recently come out, The Trouble with Islam; since then I think you've been interviewed all over the world, I doubt if you've been home for very long in Toronto. How many copies has the book sold?
Irshad Manji: Well there are different countries in which it's been released. I don't have exact sales figures for any one of those countries; things change, but I'm really happy to say that the book made it to The New York Times bestseller list in the US; it has been on the best seller list for months in Canada, which is my home country, and by this time in September, it'll be out in 20 countries, and I'm really happy to say, if I may just throw this in as well, that the book is being translated into both Arabic and Urdu, Urdu being the major language spoken in Pakistan.
Now that doesn't mean however that it'll be published in the Arab world. No publisher has been found to touch this book with a 10-foot pole in the Arab world. So you know, it's young Muslims from the Arab world who have said to me, 'Forget the publishing powers-that-be, don't let the vision be hidebound to them. You get the book translated into Arabic, you post that PDF on your website, make it free of charge to download, and Irshad, when you do that', they've told me, 'you will get an even bigger audience than you ever anticipated, because if we can read the book in relative privacy, then that means we can read it in relative safety and start discussing these ideas in a way that we couldn't if we had the book in our hands and were harassed for doing so.' Very interesting point.
MY COMMENT: I wanted to share this resource - many transcripts and audio of programmes presented by Rachael Kohn for Australian ABC. This one is under the category of 'Fundamentalism'.
to read the full program and to find many others.
Why isn't the good and glorious side of Islam featured more? - this is my reply to Taufiq who asked the question.
Taufiq Rahim has an article in the Huffington Post.
He says, "As President Obama looks to foster a new dialogue with the Muslim world, I want to give voice to an Islam that is too often ignored in the media in both East and West."
This is my reply as someone who shares Taufiq's hopes.
Thanks for your fine article.
I too, as a religious humanist, am inspired by the gifts of Islam. Who can fail to be moved by Rumi, Ibn-Al Arabi, the exquisite nature of the Alhambra, not to mention all of the science that is the foundation of Western 'civilization'.
Every day I am the beneficiary of His Holiness Muhammad's, Revelation, peace be upon Him, and the intellectual and spiritual truths discovered by those numberless great women and men who turned to Him.
But you skate over some very inconvenient truths.
I want to encourage you – and those who sincerely think like you - to try to get the 'moderate majority' in Islam to stand up and eliminate the hate-filled extremists who perpetrate such atrocities as 9/11.
Even one suspects that now hundreds or thousands are working towards the next 9/11 or much, much, worse. They are poisoned in their minds and paid for by Moslems in your part of the world – Wahabism or whatever. Only for as long as the security agencies are cleverer will the planned-for atrocities not occur. It is generally agreed that it is a matter not of if but when. (I know there is correspondingly much to be done to change the behaviour of Israel and the US.)
The extremists say they are your fellow believers. There's the problem for non-Moslems. Is there a moderate majority? If there is why don't they take control? Do all ordinary Moslems think the same as the extremists – and are simply less active? I know the difference between my friend who is a Quaker or my ex-neighbours who were Catholics and the crazies in the fundamentalist Christian pile. But I don't know if there is truly a moderate majority in Islam.
I know the faith of sweet, ordinary people – of all faiths – is to be respected. I hear and believe what you say about those in;
the mountains of Tajikistan, the streets of Kabul, the alleyways of Damascus, the villages of South Lebanon, the madrasas of Uzbekistan, the towns of the West Bank, and even in corners of Riyadh.
But given what is happening in the name of Islam are they not victims just as much as the 3,000 who died in 9/11? Is such action not an insult to their faith? Are not more Moslems killed by fellow believers day after day after day? The only currency held in common seems to be hatred, all-consuming hatred. Lighten up. En-light-en up. It would be a relief if the extremists just loved other Moslems - the same of course is true of all fundamentalists.
I share with you the desire that the fruits of Islam be recognized world-wide and the pure faith of ordinary Moslems be honoured and respected as an example to us all. I shrink from the vile hatred so many other 'believers in the Book' heap upon Islam.
My Islam is foremost about reason. It is about harnessing one's capacity to understand the complexities of this world and beyond. The mind and the pursuit of knowledge are central to comprehending, to the extent that is possible, what is the divine. One also cannot make conscious decisions about right or wrong without exercising his own judgment. Blindly following the edicts of scholars, is not choosing a path except one that is not your own. When I refrain from consuming alcohol, it is not because I am backward, or uncultured. I refuse drugs because they hinder our judgment and our ability to reason, the trait that God endowed us with that distinguishes humankind from all other beings.
Bravo – no religion has given more to the modern world than the massively enhanced re-presentation of the Ancient World's knowledge. I know that whilst Europe was literally and metaphorically in the Dark Ages parts of the Islamic world had street lighting and the first university - al hamdulillah!
You say your Islam is about the equality of women, tolerance, compassion, humility. I know all you say about these is true of the real Islam – but will the real Islam please stand up!
Equality of women, tolerance, compassion, humility? – tell that to the 74 year-old widow Khamisa Sawadi, convicted and sentenced recently to 40 lashes for meeting with her late husband's nephew i.e. he brought her shopping! Is this the Saudi version of 'meals on wheels' for the elderly?
In actuality, globally, Dear Taufiq your version of Islam is a fantasy. Your version would be called, by those who dominate Islam, a Western-corrupted perversion. Wahabism rules – you don't! That's the world's plight. You are a) just a minority b) part of a group unwilling or unable to become the dominant majority.Transformation lies in the activation of Islam as a 21stC religion.
It's not about numbers its about which version of Islam dominates globally – and yours doesn't because as yet the moderate majority, if they exist, are not willing to say, “Enough, no more!”
No one else is going to restore Islam to its rightful place other than moderate Moslems. Not even the sweet charm of Obama, let alone the insane machinations of Bush's crowd.
The world, including most of the Islamic world, was held in sympathy for a short time because of 9/11. Had America then raised 3,000 scholars of Islam instead of 3,000 cruise missiles, the world could soon have been at peace.
The possibility is still there – but only if moderate, modernized Islam moves to the dominant position.
What are you, and those moderate millions you refer to, going to do to ensure the good guys win? We Kafirs will not be the ones to bring about the change from 8thC Islam to 21stC Islam.
As I write it seems as if Iran - and the rest of the world - is doomed to more craziness.
At least the US has made an effort in electing Obama.
To read Taufiq's fine article go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taufiq-rahim/what-is-my-islam_b_214432.html
Saturday, 13 June 2009
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – Iran Election Update: Reformist Candidate’s Headquarters Seized and Locked
Partial Vote Count Declaring Ahmadinejad Win Amidst Allegations of Widespread Fraud “Gross violation of the right to a free and fair election”
(13 June 2009) [As of 7 am Tehran time] After a disputed election, the offices of two reformist candidates, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi were seized and locked by intelligence and security forces. As the Interior Ministry is declaring Ahmadinejad as the victor, the security apparatus loyal to him have taken to the streets in an overwhelming show of force.
According to unconfirmed reports, Mir Hossein Moussavi may have been detained by intelligence agents as he traveled to the Supreme Leader’s residence to meet with him.
By all indications, the government of Ahmadinejad, which is in charge of conducting the elections and counting votes, is using a combination of intimidation and military might to prevent any challenges to announced results of the election.
“It appears that a coup has taken place in Iran overnight to force the results on other parties. These elections cannot be considered fair by any measure under such circumstances,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Click on link to read the full article.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Q. What's the connection between defeating fundamentalism and getting electoral and constitutional reform?
Thanks to Justin Gero for the Russell quote.
Ironically Russell's reference to heart is exactly what true religion is - heart-knowing.
Perhaps Russell understood as Einstein, that great mystic, understood that our heart or 'right-brain' part of being human was an essential way of knowing – de-legitimized through the scramble to intolerantly worship the Enlightenment god of reason.
We have three ways of truth telling; 1) our reasoning 'left-brain' (internalized objective truths from the Sciences), 2) our moral sense (internalized truths from the Humanities, and 3) our subjective reading of reality (internalized truths from the Arts). Insanity is judging any one of these in terms of the other. In these three we are human along with living in groups and communities.
"All religions, including atheism and humanism, are worse than useless unless you can show that through them or it you are are happily creating beauty, doing good, and discovering truth, whilst celebrating unity in diversity.
If you, or I, hold to a religion and it doesn't lead to those quintessential human activities not only is it worse than useless,we thereby are shown to be hypocrites.
It doesn't much matter what you or I believe as long as the result is acts of truth, beauty and goodness whilst celebrating unity in diversity.”
'God' has no religion.' We on the other hand each have a unique belief system and viewpoint, full of wonderful things - including errors. Most religions have been debased via the manipulations of men. But they all started in one of the two senses of wonder – the state of wonderment at the beauty of being. The trouble starts when we try to give accounts of our experiences – and then try to impose them on others.
I have a model of these ideas if you are interested - HERE
Q. What's the connection between defeating fundamentalism and getting electoral & constitutional reform?
A. Getting people to understand the three ways of truth-telling and of engaging with reality.
A carrot never to be reached? - can we trust Gordon Brown on reform - we certainly must hold him and his cabinet to account
Gordon' Brown's announcement of reforms yesterday sounded great - he said he had always been in favour of reform. Does that really include Fair Voting (Proportional Representation)?
Is it true that it was Gordon and Prescott who stopped Blair from doing a deal with the Lib Dems - in the person of Paddy Ashdown?
No doubt Ashdown's new book A Fortunate Life sheds some light - as does this earlier piece on the BBC website.
Speaking as extracts of his diaries are published in the press Mr Ashdown also claimed that Tony Blair is convinced of the case for proportional representation.
"But it isn't a question of whether we would have preferred this coalition or that.
"We would have preferred, and I would still prefer and I believe it will happen, to have a system of government in which parties co-operate and work together in the interests of the nation and the parties of the left make sure we have a better government."
Other claims in Mr Ashdown's journals include a secret pact between the two leaders to form a coalition government.............................
Mr Blair is said to have told Mr Ashdown discreetly he would back proportional representation and favoured having Liberal Democrats in his government whether or not Labour achieved a working majority in 1997.
But problems would have arisen with such a scheme as Chancellor Gordon Brown is reported to strongly oppose PR.
While on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told the BBC he would never have served in a coalition cabinet, saying the idea was in "Paddy's dreams".
In his diaries, Mr Ashdown recalls his involvement in secret talks with Mr Blair as early as 1993 - before he succeeded John Smith as Labour leader.
He catalogues their many discussions about forming a coalition government which would deliver PR.
Gordon Brown is said to oppose PR
Mr Blair is said to have told Mr Ashdown on 14 January 1997 that "I have become convinced of the need for electoral reform in Britain".
Mr Blair even floated the idea of a merger of the two parties, says the journal, although that was quickly stamped on by leading figures in both camps.
It adds that the extent of co-operation between the parties was often discussed at Mr Blair's and Mr Ashdown's homes, with their wives party to the discussions.
Though actual co-operation has been much more limited since Labour came to power in May 1997, Mr Ashdown said he still believed that, eventually, the two parties would engage in coalition government.
Mr Ashdown told the paper: "The project was to design an aircraft which we believed could fly.
"What we have left is a blueprint for it to be done in the future, and two scale models in Wales and Scotland (the coalition pacts for the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament) are already in the air."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman was dismissive of Mr Ashdown's diaries, saying it was a case of "another week, another book".
The spokesman said Mr Blair remained "unpersuaded" of the case for PR at Westminster.
To read the full BBC piece go HERE
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
The Electoral Reform Society has expressed concern over the election of extremist MEPs, but sees it as further evidence of people’s rejection of Westminster style of politics.
According to Ken Ritchie, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society:
“Yesterday’s election of BNP candidates as MEP shows the extent to which voters have been alienated by mainstream politics. The BNP are a nasty lot, but many people have voted for them because they do not feel the major parties are representing them as they should. We need a radical change in politics, and that will only happen if we change the way we elect our national parliament.
“The anti-BNP ‘Hope not Hate’ campaign was all very well, but if we are to give people hope that politicians will heed their concerns we need a different sort of politics. We need a more proportional system to make the Commons representative and capable of holding the Government to account, but one in which we can choose our MPs in a way that makes them accountable to us.
“The Closed List System used for the Euro Elections is the worst form of proportional system the Government could have chosen. And it shows precisely what happens when you leave choices like this in the hands of politicians. If they had used preferential systems like the Single Transferable Vote, yes parties would have enjoyed less control, but it would have been almost impossible to return so many extremist candidates.
“Like First-Past-the-Post, party lists assume, incorrectly, that when voters make their mark they hold all other parties in equal contempt. Mainstream voters don’t want the BNP. Even those sympathetic to BNP policies apparently don’t seem to want them. 
“What they currently lack is a voting system that allows them to differentiate between the candidates they are prepared to live with and ones they most certainly can’t.”
The Electoral Reform Society is also concerned that the use of the ‘first-past-the-post’ system was used for local elections, making possible the election of BNP candidates. In a ward in Coalville in NW Leicestershire, the BNP won a seat with only 27.7% of the votes, while in Burnley a BNP candidate won with only 30.6% of the votes.
Dr Ritchie added:
“In these wards people now have councillors detested by the majority of decent people. That could only have happened under our first-past-the-post system. It could not have happened in Scotland where they now use STV for local elections. It is high time England followed Scotland’s example and changes to a system that gives people the representation they want.”
MY COMMENT: Ritchie's view about the 'equal contempt' assumption underlines the need to take in psychological and social factors, as well as technicalities, in the striving for reform and Fair Voting.