You're Alice's Adventures in Wonderland!
by Lewis Carroll
After stumbling down the wrong turn in life, you've had your mind
opened to a number of strange and curious things. As life grows curiouser and curiouser,
you have to ask yourself what's real and what's the picture of illusion. Little is coming
to your aid in discerning fantasy from fact, but the line between them is so blurry that
it's starting not to matter. Be careful around rabbit holes and those who smile to much,
and just avoid hat shops altogether.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
25 September 2007
You're the United Nations!
Most people think you're ineffective, but you are trying to
completely save the world from itself, so there's always going to be a long
way to go. You're always the one trying to get friends to talk to each
other, enemies to talk to each other, anyone who can to just talk instead of
beating each other about the head and torso. Sometimes it works and sometimes
it doesn't, and you get very schizophrenic as a result. But your heart
is in the right place, and sometimes also in New York.
Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid
19 September 2007
The issue at stake here is the moral dilemma the Catholic Church is ignoring. The Church considers the foetus as a human life and abortion as murder, it follows that one would be guilty of murder under whatever circumstances (except in case of danger to the mother's life). Furthermore, the Church would argue that the foetus is not responsible for the violence perpetrated on the mother. On the other hand, it can be argued that forcing victims of rape and incest to continue their pregnancy is a further violence and humiliation. In this instance, Amnesty International are asking for safe and legal abortions when sought by victims of rape or incest. This means that abortions are being carried out every day and this is because victims of rape and incest do not want to continue the pregnancy. Yet, by not having access to safe abortion, many of them die. A moral dilemma is facing the choice between two evils, not between good and evil. As such, if you know that a person who is a victim of rape/incest, is seeking an abortion, would you make sure that she has access to a safe abortion or would you let her undergo an unsafe procedure carrying a high risk to her life? Is an absolute principle worth so many lives? These are the questions that should be put to the hierarchy, not a blanket boycott of faith schools.
11 September 2007
Conveniently, no comment has been made on the pro-Taliban suicide bombing in Pakistan that killed 16 people today. Not to mention all the blood that has been spilt around the world in the name of 'resistance'. I wonder whether we'll ever evolve morally.
10 September 2007
"The government recognises that, in relation to the overall size of their populations, there are relatively few faith school places in the maintained sector available to Muslim, Sikh and Hindu children compared to the provision available for Christian and Jewish families."
I have nothing against faith schools per se. In fact I’m all in favour of schools who try to instil some meaning and sense of purpose in their pupils. There are, nevertheless, some issues that need to be addressed and can only be addressed if the schools are not fully independent. This means that it's better is faith schools are funded or partly funded by the government.
Inclusion: faith-schools should be allowed to give precedence to pupils from the school’s religion, otherwise what’s the point of going to a faith school? Besides, by imposing quotas, you can incur in discrimination by possibly excluding pupils from religious households. I would quite like integrated schools like in Northern Ireland. Pupils learn about their own religion, but also about others’ and have common sessions such as school assembly. Most importantly, however, the best times for pupils to mix are for play and sport. Sharing common spaces, such as sports’ facilities, should be relatively easy and would even cut costs. I should think ditching the school uniform (at play & sport time) would be a good thing too, so that pupils would be prone to mix instead of keeping with the crowd wearing the same uniform.
Employment: I can’t see why faith schools should not favour teachers who profess their own religion. Some unions say that this would impinge on the quality of the staff. I assume faith schools want good results and would not jeopardise that in order to employ someone from their religion despite his/her lack of talent.
Curriculum: in government funded schools Ofsted/Estyn inspectors should be able to raise objections if the school goes crazy and starts teaching creationism. There are no controls for independent schools.
Privacy: I have been searching over the internet but I couldn’t find anything specific on the law regulating employment by religious organisations. Every now and then, I come across some cases where a person was sacked or refused employment for being homosexual. If the organisation received government grants, this should not be possible.
Human rights: there have also been cases where women seemed to have been discriminated against in their employment. This issue needs to be clarified and resolved. For religions where women are not allowed to exercise certain functions, discrimination should not be allowed for all other posts. (It would be time for them to change policies, but that might take some time…)
Religion: the tricky part of all this is to determine what constitutes faith precepts, theological doctrines or organisational policies. There are many forms of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism etc., I would not want a codification of policies that would assume the value of dogmas. I think flexibility needs to be exercised and the government should push for it. This means that regardless of one’s denomination or level of practice, one should not be discriminated.
There seems to be a prejudice against religious schools as hot-beds of bigotry. There's plenty of bigotry outside!
The point is to look at the issues calmly and have a commitment from the government and religious groups that discriminatory practices against homosexuals and women would not be carried out, that there will be strong anti-bullying policies, including homophobic bullying, equality training for all the staff etc. Would the government impose any conditions for funding?
The brain region in question helps people shift gears when their usual response would be inappropriate, supporting the notion that liberals are more flexible in their thinking. "Say you drive home from work the same way every day, but one day there's a detour and you need to override your autopilot," said Amodio, a professor at New York University. "Most people function just fine. But there's a little variability in how sensitive people are to the cue that they need to change their current course."
That "cue" is processed in a part of the brain known as the anterior cingulate cortex, and Amodio was able to monitor its electrical activity by hooking his subjects up to electroencephalographs (EEGs) while they performed laboratory tests.
I wouldn't make too much of this, but I would definitely say that some people are very rigid in their thinking, be they rightwing or leftwing. They think in black & white terms and cannot manage complexities. It’s all for or against, soft or tough, with no understanding of the issues and no clue on how to solve it. Their brain’s ‘wiring’ might make it more difficult to see the issue from different perspectives and take into account variables and consequences, but surely not impossible. Attributing too much importance to biology risks obfuscating our human nature, which is indeed very complex and dependent on many factors. It is those who make too much of our biological/genetic/chemical make up, as determinant of behaviour and ideas, that might have an inflexible cortex. But then again, I'm liberal!