Muslim and Christian representative organizations are both calling for a regular pluralist forum, to work together on the difficult questions plaguing our times. Can we please give it to them!
And then hold a megaphone to what they are coming up with!
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is an organisation run and funded solely by American Muslims, and which believes that Muslims in America can have a positive and reformist voice in national and international discourse. In the interest of promoting greater dialogue and better understanding, MPAC believes that all Americans – from different political, religious and racial backgrounds – urgently require an all-inclusive national platform from which they can listen to and speak with each other.
Readers of my blog will know that for some time now, the World Evangelical Alliance has been calling for this same pluralist round-table. And that such a pluralist think-tank can contribute real-world wisdom to public policy – much more than a secular paradigm can.
Can anyone tell me, why don’t we hear from these forums – because they don’t yet exist, or because they don’t get a megaphone?
“Al-Qaeda is no more representative of Islam than the Ku Klux Klan is of Christianity.” – Rick Warren
You know Christians are clearly against KKK, so if Rick is right, then where are the Mulsim voices speaking out against the outrages of Al-Qaeda, and the jihad-spruiking elements of Islam?
Well those voices exist (MPAC).
Therefore, why don’t we hear more from them? (Is it the conscious editorial bias of media magnates, or just that they’re not yet aware?)
And why aren’t such groups from all religions given the pluralist table, and the task of working on public policy, to find consensus where secularist policy is clearly deficient!
Israel has a problem: It has spent so long powerless and oppressed, that it knows no other way to hold power than to oppress! it has spent so long being the stranger, that it no longer knows how to welcome strangers into their land. So long living in fear, that it cannot trust.
As “people of God,” they must press back into God and rediscover the way to break the cycle of violence. How to show hospitality to strangers, how to become a light once again to the nations.
But until they rediscover this, they remain “in the wrong!”
They have broken lawful Palestinian lands literally into fragments, and impose impossible border controls dessimating the fabric of Palestinian society & infrastructure. They are occupying far more land (90%) than the UN sanctioned. They have imposed poverty upon their neighbors.
And now, when frustrated Palestinians sent a few missiles over the fence, which landed harmlessly, Israel responded like this:
Over the past twenty four hours Israeli F-16′s and helicopter gunships have dropped more than a hundred bombs on targets inside Gaza, including a factory, a television station and several civilian police stations. Some of the bombs were dropped at a time when thousands of Gazan schoolchildren were walking home from school. Al Jazeera has broadcast footage of children’s corpses. Palestinian medics on the ground are reporting a death toll of more than 280. 600 people have been injured. These atrocities come at a time of already unspeakable hardships being endured by the people of Gaza. - Friends of Palestine
This seems to be the insane act of maniacal oppressors.
What can be done? Well for updates, at least contact Friends of Palestine.
And have your say on the ever-more noticed AVAAZ. It gets to the political process. Here’s what they had to say:
As we watch the Gaza bloodshed with horror, appalled at how the crisis is spiraling further out of control, one thing is clear — this violence will only lead to further civilian suffering and an escalation of the conflict.
There must be another way. Over 280 are dead and hundreds more injured — rockets are striking Ashdod deep inside Israel for the very first time, and the sides are mobilising for invasion. A global response has begun, but it’ll take more than words — the immediate violence won’t end, nor will wider peace be secured, without firm action from the international community.
Today, we’re launching an emergency campaign which will be delivered to the UN Security Council and key world powers, urging them to act to ensure an immediate ceasefire, address the growing humanitarian crisis, and take steps to build real and lasting peace.1 Follow this link now to sign the emergency petition and send it to everyone you know:
After eight or more years of ineffective US and global diplomacy — and now Gaza’s bloodiest day in recent memory — we must issue a global outcry demanding that world leaders do more than make statements if they’re to bring peace to this region. The UN, the European Union, the Arab League and the USA should now act together to ensure a ceasefire – which includes an end to rocket attacks into Israel and opening the checkpoints for fuel, food, medicine and other humanitarian aid deliveries.
With a new US President taking office in less than a month, a real opportunity exists to breathe new life into peace efforts. These latest hostilities require not only an immediate ceasefire but a commitment from Obama and other world leaders that resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the very top of their agendas. As the whole world is impacted by this ongoing conflict – we should demand nothing less.
In 2006 we mobilised for a ceasefire in Lebanon. For years we’ve worked to encourage a just and lasting peace, taking out billboards and ads across Israel and Palestine. Now as we head into 2009, we need to come together again to demand a peaceful and lasting resolution, instead of a further escalation of violence. Follow this link to put your name forward for peace:
All sides to the conflict will continue to act as they have in the past if they believe that the world will stand by and allow them to do so. 2009 is a year that things can be different. As we face this crisis, and the possibilities of a new year, it’s time for us to demand a ceasefire and work together to finally put an end to this cycle of violence.
With hope and determination,
Brett, Ricken, Alice, Ben, Pascal, Paul, Graziela, Paula, Luis, Iain and the whole Avaaz team
Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva. Call us at: +1 888 922 8229 or +55 21 2509 0368
Click here to learn more about our largest campaigns.
is a great checklist of issues to consider if you’re becoming more politically active – that is, active about your “polis” – your place & people.
Oct 26, 2008, Compass ran a story investigating a case that contributed to the recent legal changes in Victoria’s Abortion Laws.
Now, abortion in Victoria will no longer be an offence under the crimes act, terminations will be legal up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. These changes to the law were galvanised, in part, by the story we’re about to see. It’s about a doctor involved in making one of medicine’s most difficult and ethically fraught decisions, at a time when abortion was in a legal no-man’s land.
After reading the story, I don’t see how the old laws put abortion a no man’s land.
Dr De Crespigny
Clearly the dwarfism could not be and wasn’t a reason for termination. The reason that it was considered is because of the patient’s mental state. And everybody who met the patient was clear that this, including the psychiatrist, that this was the most suicidal patient they had ever met.
It’s always very painful being involved in managing a woman in, and making decisions on abortion, particularly late in pregnancy, particularly when there’s an abnormality which is not life threatening and grossly debilitating. The later in pregnancy the more reluctant we are. And nobody likes to be involved in these sort of decisions.
The team was now agreed: without a termination the woman’s life was in danger.
Here’s the story’s summary of the legal environment:
The team was operating in a legal no-man’s land.
At the time, abortion was a crime in Victoria. But it could be legal if the pregnancy threatened a woman’s life, her physical or mental health.
There was also a crime of child destruction, an old law covering terminations of advanced pregnancies. It was unclear and had never been used….
The confusion worried both Dr de Crespigny.
How is that a legal no-man’s land? There is provision there for this case: “it could be legal if the pregnancy threatened a woman’s life, her physical or mental health.”
Everyone agreed that this was “the most suicidal person they’d met.” This isn’t even a vague case under the old laws. The hospital boards, medical board, police all the investigations agreed with de Crespigny’s decision. The laws were clear enough.
Hospital CEO Dr De Campo’s processes were what caused all the problems.
It started when Dr De Campo summarily sacked Dr de Crespigny, to cover his legal butt, when he didn’t have to. Then De Campo went straight to the media, and brought in that circus. Then Senator Julian Mc Gauran politicized the case. He was targeting the doctors when he really wanted to close a loophole in the law. (Man did that backfire!)
So suddenly it wasn’t about this particular situation anymore. It was a “test-case” for everyone’s political agendas, and they had to win for the sake of their big issues, not for the sake of the actual particulars of this case. It was no longer about Dr de Crespigny and the law.
The law clearly allowed abortion in extreme circumstances (like ‘the most suicidal person ever.’) Dr de Crespigny did the right thing under the old law, and was repeatedly affirmed in that. The old law wasn’t the problem. The old law was the political issue.
I said, The old law wasn’t the problem. The old law was the political issue.
Now we have new laws, that make termination “fine.” This is no victory for the babies.
If we have to have a 3rd referendum in WA for the “all-important” issue of daylight saving, then why is there no referendum on the real life-and-death issue of whether fetuses are people too? A referendum that simply asks the core question, “Do you think that aborting a 30+ week fetus equals the death of a human?”
This issue comes to light again since yesterday the Victorian Parliament began debate on a bill which allows abortion, virtually on demand, up to 40 weeks.
I asked some teens about this last night, and they were all repulsed and depressed by it!
100,000 per year in Australia, which is over a quarter of all viable pregnancies. 98% of these are for social & economic reasons: only 2% are for foetal abnormalities.
Here’s what the teens said:
“Its murder. And its murder of the most vulnerable & defenceless. Babies can’t speak up. But that’s what governments are for – to speak up for the voiceless.” Indeed, otherwise we simply return to the law of the jungle, where those with the most power win.
I said, the Victorian parliament gives human rights only from birth to death, so pre-born babies have no rights. They said, “Killing a human being – in or out of the womb doesn’t matter. There should be one rule for all, whether in or out of the womb, whether with or without a birth certificate.”
I asked, shouldn’t the mother have the right to choose? “That’s what contraception is for,” they said. The mother had her choice at that point. Now that there’s a baby, the baby has a right to choose about its own life – its just that it can’t talk yet. So the mother is supposed to speak up on behalf of the baby. I thought, now that requires empathy – the ability to answer the question, ‘what would that feel like if I was in their shoes?’
I said, apparently surveys say “the mother should choose.” They said, that’s a chicken’s way out – “it’s your choice,” is what you say when you don’t want to say anything!
Well, what’s the difference between a baby, and a tissue blob / tumour? They treated me like an ignoramus – “a foetus will grow into a person (a tumour won’t).”
What about if it’s got foetal abnormalities? – “Still keep it cos its still a human being.” Just like anyone else with abnormalities. We’re all abnormal, its just differences in degree.
What’s so special about humans over animals? We talked about this one for a while – and there were two basic reasons. Religious reason – God made us, breathed life into us, we’re made “in his image,” therefore humans are extra special, more than animals. And we’re charged with looking after the creation – including each other. Secular reason – ‘Survival of the Fittest,’ Neitsche’s Will-to-Power, the Law of the Jungle (kill the weakest) doesn’t work as a guiding social value: it reduces the value of people, and makes killing people increasingly acceptable at more levels – abortion (for older and older babies – Peter Singer says 2-year olds), euthanasia, war, disability – because “after all, a bit of collateral damage is OK.” The society ends up destroying ever-larger numbers of its own, because killing becomes acceptable for more and more categories – until we challenge the basic value that allowed it at all. Killing humans is NOT OK. At all. The core value is the debate, not the degree.
I recalled a fable of a rich man who asked a woman, “Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?” She thought about it and agreed. He then said, “What about for $20?” She said, “What do you think I am, a prostitute?” He said, “That’s already been established, now we’re just haggling over the price.”
The teens saw that “killing-innocent-people” is the issue here, and “degree of inconvenience” is haggling over the price. They seemed to think there might be hope for me after all.
I said, what about in extreme cases, like rape? (Extreme circumstances make up less than 1% of instances.) Very insightfully they spoke about the mental state of a raped woman: “Maybe the birth of the baby could bring good out of a bad situation, but even if it doesn’t, the already traumatised woman loses either way: either the baby reminds her of the rape (which sooner or later she’ll have to come to terms with), or she has to live with the guilt of killing the baby she could have had.
But a mother wouldn’t have to feel guilt if it wasn’t illegal, and there wasn’t a stigma attached to it, would she? Legalising something doesn’t make it right. We legalise things because they’re ok, not to make them ok. The guilt will happen legal or not. Legalising it will increase the instances of abortion and the guilt associated with it. Again, legalising killing doesn’t make it right or guilt-free.
I remember asking a police officer if I would be allowed to speed in an extreme circumstance, like going to hospital. He said, its still illegal. In that circumstance you have to weigh up whether the other safety issue warrants paying the penalty for speeding.
I said, what about the harm that can happen to women if they have to get backyard abortions. Even if it’s the wrong choice, isn’t it better to legalise it so they can do it safely? They said you can’t legalise killings just because you want it done safely. If it’s killing, then is killing OK if it’s done safely?
In Victoria, the Hippocratic oath is at stake, and teenagers know this. We want doctors who swear the value of life, because we put our lives in their hands! And the lives of the most vulnerable. And we as a society should all take that oath.
The teens sound harsh, but that wasn’t the tone of the discussion. They were very sensitive to the feelings of women facing this situation. But they were more sensitive to the needs of the babies, that’s all. They weren’t condemning a woman to having to keep the baby, but felt that adoption was a fair way, and even that an orphanage is better than the alternative – death.
But perhaps a foetus is not a human life after all. – Hence the referendum on that key issue – keep the referendum on that core issue, (not to ask “who should choose” – we know the chicken response to that.) The basic question: is a foetus a human life, subject to human rights.
Currently, in most states, about 23 weeks is the magic age, at which a foetus becomes a human life worthy of human rights. That’s because we know that babies can live outside of the womb after this. Its viable enough to live – the only difference is the layer of mummy’s skin. Having had 4 kids, I know infants know about fear, pain, love, & safety. And to look in their eyes is to look into the soul of another living being.
So what I don’t get is what criteria are the Vic Parliament now going to use to justify going from 23 weeks to 40 weeks???
I’m not about to picket or bomb any clinics. I’m no redneck. But I know that I’m sticking my neck waaaay out by even just mentioning this topic, let alone coming down on the side of the baby. Someone will read this and conclude that I’m some kind of religious looney. But that kind of demonising would be missing my point…
If critical mass of Aussie adults think that killing a fetus is killing a human, then that has big, wide-spread life-and-death implications for 100,000 cases per year.
So why don’t we take a serious poll on the basic issue of whether these are lives (and deaths)!
“Pluralism means that all people have a place at the table. Its not a secular table, it is a pluralistic table, and therefore no one party can claim absolute control of the table.” Unfortunately Australian governments are consciously pursuing an explicitly secularist table.
Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe’s quote about the pluralist table continues (in AEA’s Working Together magazine, 2008 isue 3): “Intolerance is shown by excluding some people from the table whom they feel don’t share the secularist perspective.”
But there’s a very good reason to have religious people at the table:
“Often times governments view things with a very secular mindset, but if we are dealing with a radical fundamentalist religious worldview, then we simply cannot dialogue around that from a secular worldview. There has got to be a different approach.”
[Geoff Tunnicliffe] urged that governments should recognise Christians and people of other faiths as partners in mediation and conflict resolution. “Because our worldview is shaped by our biblical understanding and shaped by our faith, it provides the perfect platform to interact with people who also act out of their faith.”
And speaking of public service, Geoff Tunnicliffe also says:
You can’t serve someone you don’t understand.
You can’t understand others until you have learned from them.
You can’t learn important info from someone until there is trust in the relationship.
To build trust, others must know that you accept and value them as people.
Before you can communicate acceptance, people must experience your openness – your ability to welcome them into your presence.
Openness is being able to step out of your comfort-zone to initiate and sustain relationships in a world of cultural differences.
Isn’t that great sense!
And who is doing it? I can see a bunch of people around my neighborhood who do that.
But I also see secularists like Julia Gillard choosing an intolerant secularist path of government, and its hampering their public service. Can’t we find a more productive way to live in a pluralistic society?
Interested in saving our planet? Does it all seem to big to deal with? The storyofstuff.com website pulls together the issues in a way we can get our head around. Then we can decide what role we might be able to play, and how that fits in the big picture.
But there’s more. Here in Australia, ITMDI Energy is trying to pull together a comprehensive suite of interconnected technologies to make them all viable. And they’re doing it. Get on their e-list and be part of the revolution.
We HAVE to work to achieve 100% sustainable lifestyles, which will take a lot of energy, but that can be the energy hump we’re experiencing now. But if we use the energy now well, we can come down the other side of the hump, with sustainable lifestyles. If we don’t use it well, we’ll just come down the other side dead.)
So – let’s create new industries & economies, to use the sun’s energy (via the best energy conversion devices we have – plants), and produce energy & products without toxins and waste, and use less energy anyway, and rediscover ways to be happy that do not depend on stuff!
We already have computers that hand-wind, cars that run on air, stable green energy sources, eating less, exercising more – we can do it, and feel better for it.
Yes industries & businesses will close, but new ones will open up.
Yes, whole economies have to change, but they’ll have to anyway: its just a question of whether we do it now, or create more carnage later.
Yes, government systems will have to change, but let’s face it they need a change anyway - they’re currently like the old Wizard of Oz.
It can’t be that hard to get heads together to do it. I suggest each player in the consumption chain, send an expert to a design forum, to design a practical process for the intentional changes that need to be made. And stay at it until its done. Before its too late.
Please, for God’s sake, is anybody-in-power listening?
I wrote the following hard-edged column in the local newsletter. Some residents may think I was too harsh. What do you think…
Community myth: “everyone should just stay home and mind their own business.”
Sure, we don’t want to live in each others’ pockets, and meeting those nearby might be a risk. But we can still meet people in the same neighborhood without them having to be in earshot all day.
Just staying home is not “keeping the peace,” but “lacking the life!” What you feel is not peace, but isolation. Our fear of strangers (or laziness) can drive us into corners, and we become shut-ins, prisoners in our own home-theaters. We get more defensive, more conflicts arise, and soon it feels so “unfriendly.”
Yet it’s so simple to break the isolation cycle: children do it. Go where others go, say hello, and let nature take its course! People can meet at the residents association, school gates, BG Centre – look online at http://www.banksiagrove.com, there’s lots of ways to meet, help, be supported, & get talking.
Make contact, and feel the isolation fade away, life return to the neighbourhood, and you start to feel more at home in your home. Conflicts may still arise, but if we’re friends (not merely neighbours), we can resolve them more easily & simply, than if we just stay at home and mind our own business.
Think of one place you can meet people here.
One lady rang irate that I dared to tell her what to do. She isn’t lazy, isn’t isolated, she has her family and friends. But hates Banksia Grove, hates the hoons, the ‘new youngies.’ So that’s why she doesn’t meet anyone. So how dare I tell her what to do.
What do you think? Does she have a good point, or is she a case in point?
Is staying away from each other really the way to peace, and the dream we all aspire to?
How widespread is isolationism, as a conscious position?