Should fear be our navigator?

What exactly do we seek when we say we want peace? What do we mean when we say we want equality and an end to intolerance? Knowing what we actually wish to achieve is very important before we can actually can truly make it into a reality. So does peace mean an end to disagreements?  Does equality and an end to intolerance mean that everyone becomes the same? That is the way some see it. But in my mind, it is really not that simple.

To me peace means doing our best to resolve differences without resorting to violence. The thought of violence should be an ultimate last resort, and then only if every other alternative has been explored to the fullest. Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to assume that some will simply avoid violence just because we choose non-violent solutions. Unreasonable people who believe only in violence as an answer will not change just because we wish them to. So then the choice for us is to let them roll over us and have their way, or to stand up for our beliefs. While ultimately violence in defense is still violence, sometimes it is either that or have our ideals destroyed completely. But that is still only a last resort. So under the rarest circumstances, peace may require war.

If women are second citizens, why is she the ultimate symbole of a just world?
If women are second class citizens, why is she the ultimate symbol of a just world?

By the same token, equality does not mean everyone is the same. That is plain and simply not true. One just needs to look at the world around us to realize that everyone is unique, while at the same time sharing much in common. The concept of equality is to ensure that just laws are blind to who we are; that they apply to all people in a society equally. Similarly, tolerance does not mean we all become the same, but that we learn to accept each other despite our differences.

So one of the keys for changing humanity for the better is to set our priorities correctly. That means we need to base our decisions on the world we live in now. We have to use what is before us, around us; use the our own experiences to determine what is right and wrong; to make our moral decisions. Books written thousands of years ago can no longer be our sole guide, because much of what exists today was not even in the realm of imagination then. This also applies to legal documents written in a different world. This does not mean that there are is not much wisdom to be found in these documents, but that they do not cover all possible situations.

True morality will be able to shift with the times while still maintaining its core. But if the strength of the lesson is so unbending that it requires that we ignore thousands of years of history and ultimately regress socially … I question the value of the lesson. The value of life is something that we can agree on no matter the times and technological level of a society. Thou shall not kill is a rule that is agreed on by all and stands up to the test of time. But such concepts of gender inequality do not. For instance, the idea that rape is somehow acceptable may once have been true, but it has been many long decades since this was considered a truly viable belief in modern cultures. Yet those driven by unbending ancient documents as their moral guide will not actually accept such a simple concept. Two thousand years ago woman were second class citizens, and what happened to them was not really an issue. Therefore that must be true today. There is NO way society can change in a few thousand years. It’s not like our own lives change in mere decades.

We need to start living in the world we are in now, and not continue living in a very idealized past that is actually becoming more legend than truth the further we get away from it. And we can not selectively choose what lessons we carry forward, while ignoring the ones that don’t work for our desires. If an ideal cannot stand up to the test of time on its own merits, then it seems more likely to me that it is a false ideal. So why do we insist on keeping those ideals that have proven false despite the evidence that they do not stand?

The simple answer is fear. Fear of change. Fear of difference. Fear of the unknown, and stepping into the future.

Do we really want fear to guide how we mold our future?