Smorgasbord – Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Survival in the Modern World – Reason! by Sally Cronin

Welcome to another R’s of life… and this week I have selected the word Reason….and it is a word that has many facets as demonstrated by

Noun –  A basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war. Or a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action:

Verb- To think or argue in a logical manner. To form conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.

Reason as a justification

Surprisingly few of us as part of a global population have the right to worship as we choose: Right to Freedom of Speech and Religion

But unfortunately, just because you have the right to worship your god, does not mean those who worship another, are not going to find a reason persecute you for it.

It has become a tragic fact of our modern world, that a handful of extremists believe that they have the right to commit violence because of differing beliefs. Radicalisation of the young, vulnerable and poorest elements of society goes against any true religious teachings.

The cornerstone of most religions, including those that have a radicalised minority, is peace, mercy and harmony with others.

To that end certain rules or commandments were laid down long ago that attempted to ensure that peace and harmony existed amongst the believers as well as those outside the religion.

For example, the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament were carved in stone and instilled in the faithful are an ancient example of this. The story of how Moses came into possession of these commandments is a Sunday School favourite, but however they were introduced, their intent remains the same.

I am not a religious expert, but I believe that most religions have something similar in their teachings.

‘I also believe if we all obeyed commandments 5 through 10 the world would be a better place!’

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall make no idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

The dark side of the commandments….

Apart from the benevolent aspect to these commandments, there is also the element of control it gave leaders of religions over their flocks. It enabled them to wield power and a reason to demonstrate their power if you failed to fall into line.

Let’s face it, if you want to manage thousands of people, what better way than to develop a stick and carrot approach to their devotion.Some high priests even persuaded the members of their gatherings that it was an honour to be chosen to be sacrificed and to go straight to the land of the gods. Something that unfortunately is making a comeback.

There are more subtle but equally effective ways to maintain control, including using an ancient language that nobody understands for all your religious services, maintaining the mystery for hundreds of years!  A congregation had no reason to question the teachings or rituals performed generation after generation.

Certainly those that did question such practices and the breaking of most of the commandments could have dire consequences, usually ending in death. In some countries it still does!

Sometimes just an accusation of breaking the commandments could result in death, and religious courts were not known for mercy, including the  Inquisition which began in 1478 and lasted 350 years.

Even the law has taken these commandments very seriously and has used them as a reason to remove unwanted members of society. Stealing a loaf of bread for your starving family was not seen as an adequate reason, and could find you on a boat to Australia.

Even in our lifetime, these very commandments intended to create a harmonious society we could all live within, have been broken numerous times by governments, including inciting two world wars and genocide.

If somebody does not believe in our rules…. then they must be in the wrong!

We are allegedly the most intelligent species on earth with a capacity to reason. This means resolve issues logically, with knowledge gained or discovered, with awareness of consequences and with a positive outcome in mind.

But that only works if there are not people in power willing to manipulate the truth for their own means. And never easier than today, with the world wide web at their disposal, to disperse their agenda to millions of receptive individuals.

Most of us like to think that we can reason things out for ourselves, but we are being manipulated in most areas of our lives from the food that we buy, the utility company we use, the clothes on our back, who we vote for, whether we vaccinate our children or not, our body image and crucially who we want excluded from our society.

Some examples of how a population can be manipulated.

Brexit and the fear campaign in the press and social media by those in power on both sides of the divide. The leavers managed to get a 52% victory over the remainers at 48% by hitting the voters with the disadvantages and horrors of staying within the EU.

  1. Brussels would continue to control our legal system and force new draconian laws on us as a nation.
  2. Brussels would impose more regulation on our lifestyle from capping the power of vacuum cleaners, the price on beer, to the wattage of our light bulbs.
  3. That the open borders meant that UK jobs were in danger from migrant workers from the EU and a massive increase in unemployment and billions on the welfare bill.
  4. That open borders encouraged more immigration from non-EU countries putting a huge burden on services such as the NHS.
  5. That the UK would be impacted by the financial issues in other EU countries such as Greece.
  6. That the European parliament was a massive black hole that cost billions annually to support.
  7. And most compelling was the argument that the British were losing their identity, something that they had fought hard for during two world wars.
  8. There was already a dislike of the leaders of the EU who were portrayed in the press as treating our own politicians with disrespect.
  9. There was also the fear that Britain would be absorbed into the union and be governed by countries that were traditional enemies.

The Remainers were also busy instilling fear in the voters if we didn’t stay in the EU

  1. The price of holidays in Europe will go up substantially.
  2. Telephone charges when on holiday will go up.
  3. The cost of importing cars, electrical goods, our gas, French wines and cheese would cost £100s more each family per year.
  4. Everything from medicines to toilet paper would run out (people have already started hording). Food would only last a week.
  5. Tourism would drop in the UK as it would become too expensive for visitors.
  6. We would have to pay billions to the EU as part of the divorce package that was money needed to bail out the NHS.
  7. There would be a hard border between Northern and Southern Ireland which could result in damage to the peace process.
  8. There would be a loss of the European cross border co-operation on policing, terrorism etc putting the UK at risk.
  9. The UK would be unable to secure trade deals with non-EU partners to make up the shortfall from current deals.
  10. We would be militarily isolated should there be a need to defend the UK in the future.

Now after three years of shambolic negotiations we seem to be at an impasse!

The British public were not given all the facts to make an informed and reasoned decision before the referendum that was called too early, and they were spoon fed a fear campaign based on their lifestyles and personal pockets.

Britain is not alone in this method of information dispersal and hence the term ‘Fake News’

Now imagine that you are even more at a disadvantage because you only have the verbal communication from those in power to go on! The Globe and Mail

The world is a small place for someone who can’t read. Basic signage, medication labels, job applications: They all become inaccessible, and the chances of a healthy and productive life are slim. Life expectancy increases as a result of literacy and the United Nations considers it a human right.

In 2010, the global rate of adult literacy climbed to 84 per cent. Still, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the agency that monitors literacy around the world, cautions that even as the world celebrates International Literacy Day this Saturday, there are still reasons for concern.

There are 775 million people in the world who are illiterate, with another 152 million children set to follow in their footsteps because they aren’t attending school.

Admittedly the highest rates for illiteracy are in sub-Saharan countries but the USA and the UK have not got a great deal to be proud about.

1. 32 million adults can not read in the United States equal to 14% of the population.
2. 21% of US adults read below the 5th grade level.
3. 19% of high school graduates can not read.
4. 85% of juveniles who interact with the juvenile court system are considered functionally illiterate.
5. 70% of inmates in America’s prisons can not read above the fourth grade level.

and in the UK Literacy Trust

16.4% of adults in England, or 7.1 million people, can be described as having ‘very poor literacy skills.’ They can understand short straightforward texts on familiar topics accurately and independently, and obtain information from everyday sources, but reading information from unfamiliar sources, or on unfamiliar topics, could cause problems.

33.7 million voted in the Brexit referendum with 52% (17.4m) voting to leave and 48% (16.1m) to remain. A close vote. The number of eligible voters in the UK is 46 million which means that 12 million did not vote. We will never know if the 7.1 people in the UK who have poor literacy skills voted or not. But with only 1.3 million disparity, it might have changed the outcome.

Now there are millions who have changed their minds and say that if they had known the facts at the time they would have voted to remain! Hindsight is a wonderful thing but truthful communications from those in power is also a rare commodity these days.

This post was about reason…. as a justification for our actions, our attitude to those who do not believe in the same god as we do, and also as a tool to determine our personal and national futures.

We have rules and we might consider that most of them are archaic or unsustainable but the basic ones were designed to ensure social harmony and it is our responsibility to abide by them.

That being said…. it is those in power who are the most guilty of not abiding by these basic laws as they find it easy to manipulate them for the wrong reasons.

When it comes to determining our own future and that of our countries, we need to be as informed as possible before voting for political parties and participating in referendums that will have critical consequences.

And if we are to demand that people make informed decisions about their own lives and the direction their country is heading, there should be considerably more resources made available for education, not just for children but the millions of our populations who are functionally illiterate.

More education is also required on the necessity to vote in major elections or referendums. I would be very open to it becoming a required action without a justifiable reason for abstaining!

It also means not taking anything we hear or read at face value. Asking questions is part of the reasoning process and we all need to take better advantage of any opportunity to do so.

These views are entirely my own and are not intended to offend anyone’s religion or political preferences.. but I am sure it will result in some discussion… thanks Sally.