Resist

Resist

Monday, May 10, 2010

Unimaginable barbarity

There are times when I wish there was a hell, so these people could experience it.
An Islamist rebel administration in Somalia has had a 13-year-old girl stoned to death for adultery after the child's father reported that she was raped by three men.

Amnesty International said al-Shabab militia, which controls the southern city of Kismayo, arranged for 50 men to stone Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow in front of about 1,000 spectators. A lorry load of stones was brought to the stadium for the killing. 
This poor girl lived a short, brutal life and was horribly betrayed by the adults responsible for her rape and murder.  We're in the 21st century.  We could make this planet a peaceful, wonderful place if people would just get the frak out of the middle ages.

6 comments:

Marc said...

I don't think the world will ever be a wonderful place. It hasn't been for several thousand years and it's not likely to be. The problem isn't religion, per se; religion is just an overt manifestation of a basic irrationality that lies at the heart of humanity.

Also, the Islamists are, in part, a response to the breakdown of society in Somalia. I think they are more a symptom than a cause; there are plenty of secular political groups that have committed atrocities in the name of a cause. It isn't religion, per se, it's an irrational attachment to what they see as "the truth."

Ipecac said...

I'm more optimistic. Who would ever have thought that we'd see gay marriage in America during our lives? In much of the world things are getting better; at least in how we perceive other human beings as worthy and equal.

I disagree about religion, however. Whenever you have humans raised with an inherently irrational belief system, you're going to have problems.

Marc said...

You assume that religion is the only form of irrationality. My point is that religion is a manifestation of a basic irrationality at the heart of humanity. There are plenty of belief systems just as irrational as religion; for example, the Tea Party. The problem is not religion per se but the attachment of humans to a need for certainty in a complicated world. The Bolsheviks were just as irrational as radical Islamists with their belief that society should be radically transformed through violence. Religion is, I agree, the most prevalent form of irrationality but I think it's a symptom rather than a cause.

As for the world, in a lot of ways, things are better, especially in the West. I'm not sure that's true in many other parts of the world. Much of the world is still struggling to survive. As for seeing people as equal, again, that's a sort of parochial American view. Do you think the Hutus see the Tutsis as free and equal? And, even if what you say is true, it doesn't necessarily translate to a better world. And I don't see any reason to think that the world will ever be as you think it can be. That's not to say we can't improve the world, but I think you overestimate the ability of people to live together in peace and to solve the problems of the world. I just don't. To me, self-interest will always trump the collective good--not in each and every case, but for the most part. Power, greed, and selfishness largely drive humanity. I realize this is an awfully bleak view of humanity but I think it you read history, it's realistic. And, if you accept your view of the malignity of religion, I don't see much reason for optimism; sure, there is some increase in atheism in the West, but atavistic religiosity is growing in much of the world, including the US.

Ipecac said...

History argues against you. Look how much progress has been made in the west over the past 400 years. Give the "third world" time and they'll catch up.

Marc said...

I don't think history disagrees with me at all. I'm not saying no progress has been made or that there is no hope for improvement. In general, you are correct; humanity has advanced in fits and starts. But you make this assumption of inevitable progress that is not borne out by evidence. In some ways, things have gotten worse. For example, the 20th Century was far bloodier (in part due to technology) and barbaric than the 19th. The Holocause isn't exactly an example of moral progress. And I think you overestimate the amount of actual progress in the world because you see things through a middle-class western lens. Africa is a complete disaster. To say "give the Third World time and they will catch up" is sort of meaningless. How much time--100 years, a 1000 years? And how will it happen? Do you realize how far behind economically and socially Africa is, for example? What evidence do you have, other than blind optimism, that Africa will make drastic progress in reducing poverty, eliminating tribal warfare, and so on? Progress doesn't just happen; it requires social forces that move it along. I certainly don't think history is static or that what we see today is inevitably what we see tomorrow. But what evidence do you see that the west, let alone the world, will or can address problems such as global warming, resource depletion, ethnic strife and so on? I don't see any of this getting better; we can't even agree on actions to cut emissions even modestly and even if we could, it would be difficult and expensive. In fact, with more countries getting nukes, the 22nd century is liable to be worse than the 21st.

I'm not saying that the world is going to destroy itself or whatever. I suspect humanity will manage to muddle through as it always has; I think technology will probably alleviate some of the worst of the environmental problems, for example. But progress is not inevitable as you seem to think.

Ipecac said...

What's 100 or even 1000 years in the long progression of human civilization?

Less than 1000 years ago the world was a complete disaster everywhere. Now it's not. And now we have technology to communicate, travel, bridge understanding and to solve problems like hunger and disease.

I see many reasons to be unhappy with our current state, but no reason to be pessimistic about the future, no matter how far away that future may be.