A few days ago, it was the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. As a result, there were various commemorative posts on social media.
My own view is that while King’s views on equality are laudable, there was/is absolutely nothing to stop somebody holding those exact same views, but in a secular capacity. Furthermore, King muddied the waters when he claimed to be “doing God’s will”. (The commemoration included footage of him saying these exact words – it was suggested that he may have been speaking metaphorically somehow but I was unconvinced – I’m not even sure if someone could say those words and mean it metaphorically.)
I don’t really buy arguments about doing God’s will, because if somebody claims to be doing God’s will, it’s tantamount to them saying that they are not fully responsible for their actions, because their god was at least partly responsible. I don’t know. Maybe that’s how some people think? Certainly, I think if I were religious, I’d want to be even more careful in case somebody was trying to hoodwink me into doing something, in the name of my religion, something I didn’t particularly agree with. A “just” war, a crusade, for example. Plus, I think it is a logical step from what King said, to being a part of something like Islamic State, and cutting people’s heads off, all in God’s name. Sure, King’s words were a way away from that, but I think they were along the same path.
So, for those reasons, I don’t think you bring God’s will into things. I think if you simply argue in terms of wrong and right, that resonates with people. The big issues that MLK tackled, in particular, make it dead easy to argue wrong and right.
Anyway, my words caused a storm in a teacup. I was criticised by some people because I was blaspheming, by others for being racist. Other people jumped in to defend this view. I don’t really say anything in order to garner popularity, but a good sanity-check to hear other people echoing my view.
It was disappointing to hear a couple of people just saying “shut up” (I’m paraphrasing a little), as if even bringing up the subject was taboo. I chuckled because it reminded me of the stoning sequence in Life of Brian, but all the same was disappointed. It kind of reminded me of the time when even owning a bible was considered blasphemous. Blasphemous, of course, because as soon as people knew what the bible contained, they were able to argue and dispute its meaning. Except that was 500 years ago – for some of us, in any case. Somebody else piped up that they were bored with the thread – although I kind of put that down to their attention span as opposed to anything I’d said. Quite why you read a thread, then take the trouble to write a comment to say that you’re bored by it, I’m not sure. I don’t know what they were expecting to see. If I were in the business of politics, it’s a useful bit of insight that some people just aren’t able to follow a coherent argument, and not at all surprising that New Labour mastered the soundbite so effectively, at least until it became hollow.
But despite several tens of people agreeing with me, it was the half-dozen who disagreed whose comments I focused on. I think that disagreeing, and dissecting exactly where I might disagree, is far more useful, far easier to learn from and perhaps develop arguments. And who knows? I might be wrong.