Once upon a time if you said, ‘I hate everything about S. A.’ you’d be talking about South Africa. But nowadays you’d likely mean Saudi Arabia. They haven’t moved on there in 2,000 years; and later this week they’re going to be crucifying someone for ‘crimes’ relating to the Arab Spring, when he was still a child:
Yes, you heard that right. Crucifying. Oh, but it’s all right – they’re beheading him first, so it’s more humane.
And will our government do anything about it? Will they ****! I mean, it’s like when they were going to behead that princess. What did they say? ‘If you want to execute your princesses, go ahead – as many as you like!’
OK that was Not the Nine o’clock News. But it pretty much summed up the government attitude. Sadly I can’t find a link so if you know where to find one, please comment below.
It’s all very well to blame the government (and god knows, I do) but we have to think about this. As the NTNON ‘newscaster’ went on to say, Saudi Arabia has ‘an awful lot of oil’ and the likely outcome of criticising SA’s human rights regime would be a cut in oil supply. So how much oil would you sacrifice to help achieve a better human rights record in SA? Would you give up driving? Central heating? Plastic?
I loathe everything I hear about SA. I hate the way they treat women; I hate that they’re super-duper-mega-rich but no-one’s asking them to take refugees (most of whom are Muslim) and I especially hate their so-called justice system. They suck. And I’m not afraid to say that – but then I’m not risking anything am I?
Even if I were, it’s important to stand up for human rights. But there’s a problem. I will happily sign a petition against Saudi Arabia executing someone – for example – because they are gay, but there’s something about the rhetoric that sticks in the craw a little. It’s a bit self-righteous to be rapping other countries over the knuckles for doing something we only stopped doing about five minutes ago. We’ve decided it’s OK to be gay, and suddenly we get the right to lecture the rest of the world about it. Where we once colonised, we now do lecture-tours – and so let’s not forget; it’s within my lifetime that it’s become legal in the UK to be a practising homosexual and until a hundred years earlier – 1861, according to wikipedia, it was a capital offence.
In 1895, Oscar Wilde was sent to prison for daring to love one of his own sex: he escaped hanging by less than 30 years.
Times change; and we must change with them. That applies just as much to religions as it does to the law; but how much to change and how much to retain, will always be a subject for debate. Some religious leaders, while being forward-thinking in general, remain unreconstructed in some areas: hence the Dalai Lama’s reported remarks about a female successor needing to be attractive.
Here’s a more balanced view than I got on Facebook:
I’m disappointed, I must admit. However all such iconoclasms throw us back on ourselves and cause us to think about the connection between culture and belief. I think the Quakers do a pretty good job: every thirty years they update ‘Quaker Faith and Practice’, aiming to keep the best of the old and add the best of the new. They’re not afraid to be iconoclastic either: though they admire George Fox (the Quaker equivalent of St Paul), they are not afraid to criticise him. This seems to me a sensible attitude.
As it is written in Bruce Almighty:
God: ‘You can use any of my powers you want. But you can’t mess with free will.’
Bruce: ‘Can I ask why?’
God: ‘Yes! You can! That’s the beauty of it!’
I love that film. Best screen representation of God – except perhaps Liam Neeson in Rev:
So let’s be righteous, folks – but not self-righteous.