You are hereI’m (not) against it

I’m (not) against it

By Kim - Posted on 08 January 2013

We non-believers have a reputation for being against things.

We’re against Bishops in the House of Lords. We’re against faith schools. We’re against this and we’re against that. Boy, are we against a lot.

It is easy to think that we are against everything and not for anything. The truth is, we are for things, too. In fact, we’re for lots and lots and lots. Let’s list some of the things we’re for…

We’re for fully representative democracy, where every citizen without a criminal conviction can stand for election to Parliament and where everyone in Parliament is elected to their position by fair and honest means. (An unfortunate downside of this is that we’re against the bishops in the House of Lords because they are not elected; they are appointed just because they’re bishops. On the upside, we’re for bishops being able to stand for election to Parliament; just as every other citizen is.)

We’re for fully inclusive schooling where every pupil is valued and given the best possible education. This would include being given the best knowledge we have about how the world works (such as the Theory of Evolution) and given the best possible education about religion (such as the facts about the world’s major religions, as well as some non-religious positions). Basically we’re for children being given the information to make up their own minds about their place in the world and about their beliefs. We’re for children being educated alongside other children of different creeds, colours and cultural backgrounds as this will expand their horizons and do much to ensure future harmony in our society. (An unfortunate downside of all this is that we’re against ‘faith schools’, and indeed any other schools that seek to indoctrinate or to reduce the exposure of children to other influences. On the upside we’re for parents having the freedom to inform their children about their own traditions, culture and religion, in their own time.)

We are for knowing the truth about how the world works, and we see that science is the best tool we have for finding this out. Science has given us knowledge that we know is correct, because (apart some hot topic areas that are the focus of much debate and research) it is consistent, and we can use it predict things and build things and stay healthy. (The downside is that we are against those who would deny science, claiming that their sacred truth trumps science and flies in the face of all the evidence. Or worse, those who lie about science in order to protect their sacred truth. The upside is that we are for such people having the right to believe anything they like, just as long as they don’t try to push it onto the rest of society.)

We are for women being healthy and being able to enjoy sex. (The downside is that we’re against female circumcision, or female genital mutilation (FGM) as it is more correctly called. In this process, carried out for religious or cultural reasons, large parts of a girl’s genitals can be cut away, meaning that she is left unable to enjoy sex and potentially leading to severe health problems, either immediately or later in life. The upside is that we are all for women being able to choose FGM for themselves once they reach a responsible age – although we feel that few would actually choose this.)

We’re for infant boys keeping their foreskins. (The downside is that by definition we’re against unnecessary surgery in an attempt to brand the boy with a religious or cultural identity before he is old enough to speak, let alone have a full understanding of what it is all about. On the upside, we’re all for boys being free to have their foreskins lopped off if they choose this for themselves later in life.)

We are for people, and we are for equality. We think that human beings are amazing animals, being unique on this planet, and as far as we know, in the Universe. We are astounded by, and celebrate, the diversity of humanity in all its variety of races and cultures. We think that people are people and all worthy of the same rights and the same respect. (The downside is that we are against those who discriminate against people, whether on the grounds of sex, sexuality, race, creed, colour, nationality, political or tribal affiliation, ability, or indeed in any other way. Discrimination has no upsides.)

We are for human rights, and we are for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This states, among much else, that people may not be imprisoned without trial or subjected to torture. (The downside is that we are against those who seek to do these things. The upside is that we’re all for those who want to be torturers, or who want to be tortured, joining their local S&M community.)

We are for freedom of speech, with the proviso that it is not personal abuse. Freedom of speech allows ideas and values to percolate through society, and it is essential for democracy and freedom. (The downside is that we against those who wish to restrict freedom of speech, especially as they usually do this in order to advance some nefarious objective of their own, e.g., dictatorship, fundamentalist religion, etc. Bizarrely, there is no upside to this; there can be no freedom to deny freedom.)

We are for freedom of religion. No really, we are. We might think that it is based on unsound ideas, (or even, if we’re honest, a little bit silly), but if it makes some people happy or brings them comfort then good for them. We also acknowledge that religion motivates some people to do good things in the world – although we suspect that many of those individuals would also do good things without the religion, simply because they are good people. (The downside is that we are against religion that tries to push itself into the public sphere, such as into politics or education. Religion must remain a private thing otherwise it impacts the lives of those who don’t want it, or are simply of a different religion. We abhor those who use violence because of their religion.)

We are for life on Earth. This is the only planet we have, still the only one we know of that can sustain our kind of life, so it seems reasonable to us that we look after it. (The downside is that we are against anyone or anything that degrades the planet. Bizarrely, there is no upside to this either; there can be no freedom to reduce the potential for life.)

And there are lots and lot and lots more things that we are for. This is only a selection that occurred to the author. Next time you find yourself in a debate or a discussion, don’t let yourself be presented as somebody who is against everything. Look for the flip-side and provide the positive message. There is no downside to this.



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