One topic that has been discussed, almost to exhaustion, in recent years is freedom of speech. There happened to be yet one more discussion on the ABC radio this afternoon while I was driving home from an appointment.
Years ago, it was more common than now to link ‘rights’ to ‘responsibilities’. Just as getting a licence, having passed all necessary tests, gives me the ‘right’ to drive, it also makes me ‘responsible’ for driving according to the road rules and in a manner which does not put others at risk.
One issue which is too frequently ignored is respect. Respecting other people, however much they differ from you, is something which should be standard. OK. There are some people who so consistently do not respect others, that respecting them is difficult – but we still have to respect their right to be treated according to the law.
If it were possible to have a community where respect for others’ right to be who they are was endemic, then the issue of free speech would disappear, as would many other causes of social friction.
One of the problems with many religions in today’s world, is that they ignore advances in knowledge and go back for direction to words recorded from ancient and more ignorant times.
Until relatively recently, anyone whose sexuality was not straight was shunned by many as unacceptable – and in the case of male homosexuals, in many places they were legally regarded as committing a crime if they had a sexual relationship with another man.
Former Justice Michael Kirby bears witness to the extremities of discrimination that any member of the LGBTIQ community was once subject. But, since science has revealed that this community does not, after birth, choose not to be straight but the decision is made before the foetus reaches full term, then every single human being has the right to be treated with respect as regards their sexuality.
Sadly, old habits die slowly!
Clearly, if people refuse to accept that knowledge of the world around us is always growing, as more and more discoveries are made, discoveries are made, then they will often, in ignorance, cause hurt to others. Once this has been pointed out to them, to fall back on their religious texts to support their argument is not an option.
I often wonder how much more peaceful the world might be if people did not follow any religion at all!
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