Last week one comment on twitter to some of the Blak and Black crew resulted in considerable discussion about the underlying intent of this wee blog. The commenter, apparently thinking that Bakchos was proselytizing in his post A Hypocrite for a Prime Minister, a Hypocrite for a Chief Minister, fired off this somewhat surprising reply:
Some of the crew were online at the time and promptly replied to the commenter to try to explain the fact that the mythology and religion used in the post were merely a frame within which to discuss racism within Australia. The explanations were apparently useless, for they resulted in:
In the words of Charlie Brown, good grief. I’m sorry to say that the commenter cannot have read any of the other posts on Blak and Black. If he had, he would have discovered that both Bakchos and I have discussed issues of racism, ethics and philosophy from the standpoint of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and even Greek mythology. The last is of greatest interest, because it worships not one deity, but a whole pantheon. If anything was going to let the regular reader know that religion is the last thing on our minds, it should be the wide range of theologies from which the writers of Blak and Black draw their material.
What the self-titled Renaissance man may not realize is that he was dueling with one who can truly claim to be precisely just such a person and the followers of Blak and Black all see only one purpose in the blog – the discussion and dissemination of human rights abuses so that they can be dragged into the light, the victims acknowledged and justice prevail. It has absolutely nothing to do with religion. As I said myself in reply to this commenter, I’m not even entirely convinced that the gods don’t simply treat us as chess pieces on a board. I’m fairly certain that I am but a pawn in some vast cosmic game, but that does not mean that I will still not aim to do what is right.
Yes, I’ll speak heresy and speak of multiple deities within a single “church”. I’ll compare Allah and Buddha, Christ and Ganesh. Bakchos draws on religious teachings not to show his devotion to any one religion (if you knew him, you would realize just how preposterous such a suggestion could be!), but to show how mankind, regardless of his cultural heritage or personal beliefs has developed concepts of right and wrong.
Jules Romain, believed that being a man was not enough: “It is good to be a man. But there is even better: human being.” Romain believed that men should work together for the protection of the rights of the individual. It’s a very socialist concept, I suppose, but one not inconsistent with the arguments played out on Blak and Black.
This blog has spent the past two years discussing racist and sexist attacks on Indigenous Australians, Muslims, West Papuans, Congolese and Solomon Islanders. It has discussed the fates of Ms. Jill Courtney, Mr. Julian Moti QC, Capt. Fred Martens, the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue, Ms. King and many others. Among those people, there’s a Muslim, a Hindu and Christian. Religion has nothing at all to do with the issues, but simple, plain morality does. I aim to do what is right not because any god tells me to, but because it simply is right. I try to do what is right because if I don’t how can I ever expect to be repaid with that same kindness when I am in need? I do what is right regardless of what some deity or pantheon tells me and I expect that if my suspicions about chess are right then I am right royally screwed, because I’ve always sucked at chess!
Human rights can and should be fought from the standpoint not of religion, but of the most fundamental levels of conscience that instill in each of us that sense of what is right. Divine myth and religious tenets are not enough and in fact, drive much of the racist rhetoric when viewed too literally. Take a step back form the religion and consider the tone of the arguments. A god is what you want or believe it to be. You make him fit whatever precepts you want. But I’ll bet you one thing, all our gods teach the same thing in the end – be kind to each other. As a friend once told me, we are all climbing the same mountain, aiming for the same pinnacle; we are just taking different roads.
“Everything of persecution and revenge between man and man, and everything of cruelty to animals, is a violation of moral duty.”