UPDATE: The Animal Copyright Foundation is no more but Gregory Colbert's work continues and grows.
In exploring the shared language and poetic sensibilities of all animals, I am working towards rediscovering the common ground that once existed when people saw themselves as part of nature and not outside of it. The destiny of whales cannot be separated from the destiny of man, and the destiny of man cannot be separated from the destiny of all of nature. I am exploring new narratives that help build a bridge across the artificial boundaries we have established between ourselves and other species. - Gregory Colbert
One of the tenets of Scientology is that anyone who criticizes the religion is fair game for any and all kinds of retribution. You can file lawsuits against them, you can harass them, you can spread lies about them, and it's OK because the critic is fundamentally evil.
Fundamentalist Islam is as full of holes as any fundamentalism. In my opinion, any belief that a book written by fallible human beings is infallible, makes no sense. When I see the behaviour that springs from such beliefs, it confirms my view. However, there are obviously millions who genuinely believe - and act accordingly. It has been said that the Bible has been used to justify many of the world's worst atrocities. The same can no doubt be said of other books.
Outrage, fear, aggression, anger . . . none of these reactions is likely to evoke change or a softening of unbending attitudes. It's apparent that US aggression in Iraq has brought many more recruits to the cause of violent, fundamentalist Islam. So, what might work?
For the past couple of years, a brave , young Yemeni judge has had some success. He has challenged Al Qaeda prisoners to a debate:
"If you can convince us that your ideas are justified by the Koran, then we will join you in your struggle," Hitar told the militants. "But if we succeed in convincing you of our ideas, then you must agree to renounce violence."
The prisoners eagerly agreed.
Now, two years later, not only have those prisoners been released, but a relative peace reigns in Yemen. And the same Western experts who doubted this experiment are courting Hitar, eager to hear how his "theological dialogues" with captured Islamic militants have helped pacify this wild and mountainous country, previously seen by the US as a failed state, like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, was a singer, guitarist, songwriter and Rastafarian from the ghettos of Jamaica. He is the best known reggae musician of all times, famous for popularizing the genre outside of Jamaica. Much of his work deals with the struggles of the impoverished and/or powerless.
He was the husband of Rita Anderson Marley (who was one of the I Threes, who
acted as the Wailers' back up singers after they became a global act). She had 4 of his 9 children, including David Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley who continue their father's musical legacy in their band The Melody Makers.
I enjoy going around responding to "Merry Christmas!" with one of my
own but for me and, based on most of what I see around me - even in our
relatively conservative part of the country - this is largely a
seasonal holiday (as it originally was anyway), in which families get
together and retailers make their profits for the year. I, for one,
would be delighted to see the materialism take a back seat to the
religion. Maybe, if Christianity celebrated the birth of Jesus on or
around his actual birthday (some time in May, I understand), the
secular, seasonal (Solstice), winter/summer break could be enjoyed by
all - and Christmas-in-May could be celebrated as the Christian event
that it is - and, in the process, shake off the heathen Christmas tree
and the Coca-Cola Father Christmas - and perhaps leave behind one
carol to sing on The Feast of Steven: Good King Wenceslas.
What justifies people flying planes into buildings or seeing the destruction of Jerusalem as a step towards salvation . . . ?
“Our world is fast succumbing to the activities of men and women who
would stake the future of our species on beliefs that should not
survive an elementary school education. That so many of us are still
dying on account of ancient myths is as bewildering as it is horrible,
and our own attachment to these myths, whether moderate or extreme, has
kept us silent in the face of developments that could ultimately
destroy us. Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence
today as it was at any time in the past.”
"Criticizing a person's faith is currently taboo in every corner of our
culture. On this subject, liberals and conservatives have reached a
rare consensus: religious beliefs are simply beyond the scope of
rational discourse. Criticizing a person's ideas about God and the
afterlife is thought to be impolitic in a way that criticizing his
ideas about physics or history is not."
According to Sam Harris, our reluctance to speak up about lack of reason, to the point where it determines major decisions, is "politely" allowing decisions to be made with no good reason, decisions which can be extremely destructive.
When their beliefs are extremely common, we call them 'religious';
otherwise, they are likely to be called 'mad,' 'psychotic' or
'delusional.' - Natalie Angier in the New York Times
In Sweden only 10% of people believe in God, yet it is a pretty moral society and on virtually every measure of quality of life (poverty, child care, prison population, wealth gap etc.) it is superior to the USA, where up to 90% of people consider themselves "believers".
With all the debate currently in North America - the US in particular - about how to acknowledge the various holidays at this time of year (Is it "Merry Christmas" or "Season's Greetings"? Can we sing carols in schools? etc.). I go for the one celebration that is indisputable: the Solstice. We can all celebrate the Solstice. Where I live - in the northern half of our planet - we celebrate the return of light: the days lengthening. In the south, it is the beginning of the womb-time or at least in the many hot countries, a welcome shortening of the days.
For a very rich consideration of the history and meaning of Solstice celebrations, take a look at Richard Heinberg's Celebrate the Solstice.