Have you ever thought about if the law should derive authority from morality?
Just for a moment, try to think of a culture that regards the law of the land immutable and absolute. People who have this common strain of thought rooted in them often say things like, "the law is the law" and "it's the law." While the laws are often necessary and conducive to a well-rounded, civilized society, they are often contrary to good sense and morality.
It is safe to say that people typically regard human laws to be fundamentally disconnected from morality, or perhaps they have never formed an association between these two ideas. Note that I am of the opinion that laws ought to conform to and be derived from accepted standards of morality, which ultimately spring from human nature and reason. This view is known as the natural law theory and has been an object of speculation by philosophers and political theorists for years.
Since childhood, we are taught to respect authority. We are told to respect our elders, parents, our teachers. We are instructed to respect police, legislators, the legal system. We are taught to respect the law. But then, we are also taught how often the law has failed us.
We learn in school about the laws that made women property, that treated rape as a theft against a man rather than an assault against a woman. We read about centuries of legalized slavery, followed by a Jim Crow era that condoned rather than condemned heartless racism and brutal assault. Call it a thread woven through the fabric of our nation – all of the times that the laws have been wrong. Morally wrong, ethically wrong, and often based on ideology that is factually wrong.
Political leaders are always talking about making the world a better place but they will most likely seek practical expedients to achieve their political ends, disregarding what may be considered virtuous in any moral, absolute sense. Here comes the lesson of History. Political leaders have, or at least should have, one objective: to uphold the welfare of the state, over which they have dominion. This, however, doesn't come without a grievous cost.
I am of the belief that political leaders have lost touch with their moral sensibilities, combining law with what is good, virtuous, or moral. They seem to believe that law dictates morality, though it ought to be the other way around. The law is not absolute; it is a human convention. Morality may likewise be of this nature but, upon reflection, it seems to dwell closer to human nature, passions and sentiments.
No, I am not here to define any specific ethical or moral theory, as that may take a while. It is not always clear what is moral and what is not. I am here to say, however, that before law and policy makers execute or contrive the rules of the land, they must ask if it conforms to some standard of morality, or if they find it in agreement with their moral intuitions. This, I am sure, is not a question those in power often ask themselves.
“Where is the humanity in our laws? Where is the humanity in us?
Many laws from the past are now considered immoral and heinous – slavery, women's rights and Jim Crow Laws, just to name a few. Immigration is a sensitive topic, but it seems fundamentally immoral to shoulder the blame on immigrants, especially if they're law-abiding and educated. It's the government that needs reform. To scapegoat immigrants is fallacious and rash. But only after the crime is done, and the immigrants have been discarded and shamed, will we, just like with slavery, understand the malignity of our actions. And I do hope it does not reach that point.
The reality is that sometimes laws, like the people who make them, are simply unethical. Not all, but still quite a handful. An inescapable reality really, and the best that we can do is stand up against injustice when we see it and do our best to be better in the future. Many people love to use alleged criminality as an excuse to condemn others.
For example, a man stealing deserves to be shot; a woman buying cocaine deserves to be imprisoned; a protester who trespasses deserved to have mace sprayed in their eyes and attack dogs released to scare them away. If this is the truth, then here is my question: “Where is the humanity in our laws? Where is the humanity in us? If we can truly turn a blind eye to tremendous injustice simply because our laws condone it, then what is the point of democracy, of free will?”
I neither condone violence nor do I condone illegal behaviour. I will far more strongly condemn actions that fail to recognize people’s humanity. I’m not interested in descending into anarchy, but I do think that we must be vigilant of what’s going around us. And we must never, ever stop fighting against the laws that fail us, as many have throughout history. Remember how we were taught to respect our elders? Well, maybe you don’t have to respect that one old racist aunt who calls you names and insults your family members simply because she is older than you. And maybe, just maybe…
Laws aren’t right just because they have been written.
In the end, the essential question still stands: Should lawmakers and political leaders be strictly concerned with the welfare of the state, which may be achieved by any means necessary, or should they also concern themselves with the metaphysics of human morals, which often play a deep-rooted role in our psychology and spiritual life?… We’re all still searching for an answer. Being human is a given. But keeping our humanity is a choice. And to quote St. Thomas Aquinas, “An unjust law is no law at all."
So what exactly are the results of the irreligious listening to religious music?
I, for one, don't believe in religion. And also, music is one of those things that everyone can say that they love or at least seem to enjoy. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who honestly believes that they “don’t like music” or that music is just “not for them” .
Usually these people can’t pin down a specific type of music that they enjoy so they opt out for saying that they don’t like music. People’s music tastes can be eclectic or they can be specific, they can be inclusive or they can be exclusive. But what’s important is that people’s tastes in music are essentially that tastes. They’re based off of opinion, not on fact. Now for most people, that’s probably pretty obvious. It’s pretty simple that music tastes can vary and that there isn’t a specific type of music that people are allowed or not allowed to like.
However, to others, this is not the case. According to a few people I have met...
It is criminal for me to like religious music because I am not religious...
The argument has come at me from both sides of the religious spectrum, it has been presented by the religious and the irreligious with the same conclusion. “I should not be listening to religious music if I’m not religious”.
According to the religious, the music concerns itself with things that I don’t believe in, the themes are about God, the Sabbath, and based upon my rejection of religion the thematic concepts in religious music are why I should not listen to it.
Additionally, I have heard these people claim that my enjoyment of this religious music implies in somehow that I actually believe in the claims that the religion makes. I wish that was something I could make up; I’ve actually heard this argument. In reality, I just love music.
From the irreligious, the argument has similar tone. ‘If you don’t believe in what the religion espouses, then why would you listen to their music’. Some of the more militant have said that if the religion doesn’t allow women to sing in front of men, then why would you support their musical choices. Which is basically saying that a religion preaches something against what we (as the irreligious) deem to be immoral and therefore what they produce (the music) is immoral and you shouldn’t listen to it.
But these critics of mine are missing the point, with irreligion and more specifically with humanism, only one thing is sacred, and that is humanity. It's erroneous to say I am violating some sort of spiritual barrier that the music presents, since I reject conventional spirituality. And to the music being of religious origin?
To be intolerant of the origin is as intolerant as the origin itself.
In truth, my music tastes concerning religious music are eclectic at least among the Abrahamic faiths. I regularly listen to liturgies ranging the gamut of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and I enjoy them regardless of the subject matter.
Whether the subject matter is Holiday Liturgy, Thanking God, or the Shahada, all music is wonderful and all music is human. The nature of music is an expression of humanity and therefore an achievement for which humanity has brought about. It celebrated regardless of the subject matter, regardless of original intention.
Our combined Humanity is one of those few things that I can consider to be sacred.
When we express that Humanity through songs, regardless of the subject matter there is a lot to be learned, there is a lot to be discovered, and there are a lot of connections that can be made through our individual cultures that can unite us.
To those who would try to deprive me of this experience, I will always firmly stand my ground. I refuse to allow my connection to humanity to be severed by the selfish and myopic views of the few. Rather, tapping into our universal humanity, specifically through the medium of song, I choose instead to join together the entirety of the human species.
Everyone always has to start somewhere. Hey, I’m Emily. I can’t wait to see Margaret and Louis at the fields today. We made a promise we’d pick the daffodils today and that we’d hang out at the old tree with the tyre. Of course, we have to take turns on who gets to be on the swing. Then we’ll sit down and talk about our dreams and hopes for the future. I’ve always wondered how Margaret and Louis thought about life. You know, they always seem so full of life. And I always get excited to hear their stories, sometimes, a little envious. Because mother and father would never let me out of the house.
6 years old - They told me I couldn’t do any physical activities anymore. They said I shouldn’t be playing football and basketball and that I’m not supposed to run, jump, or ride a bicycle. When I asked mother why, she would smile but I never got an answer. I really wish I know the answer to it, because sometimes at night, when mother thinks I’m asleep, I hear her crying and dad trying to comfort her. She mentioned something about how it was impossible for her to explain something to a 6-year-old why I couldn’t do it anymore. Somewhere along her sobs, she also said something about not wanting to deprive me of my early childhood. I never understood what they meant by that.
8 years old – I finally began to understand why they wouldn’t let me out of the house. Mother and father told me it was something about my spleen condition. They told me I was different from the other children. I do look out of the window once in a while to see how rain looks like. I’ve never seen a rainbow before even though I’ve seen them in the pictures of the books mother would read to me. I still feel there’s hope for me even though Margaret and Louis didn’t come to visit as often as they used to. Dad told me they were busy in school activities. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been to school, but it sounds nice.
10 years old – I have tubes attached to my body, and some wires. Mother told me I needed something like a shock to keep my mind alert. I think that was what she said? Because I’m usually not too focused when she’s talking to me when I look out the windows. It’s a different view because I’m in the hospital. Dad says things will get better. I don’t know how many times has he said that. I have forgotten what I even look like. My world now consisted of tubes, wires, and pills. Something this normal to me would be considered alien to Margaret and Louis. Mother said that regular people start the day in the morning by setting coffee and making breakfast, her day, on the other hand, started by checking if I was alive.
I’m 12 years old now. I’m finally out of the cage. I do love the smell of the daffodils after the morning rain. Louis says the field looks as if it was covered in gold. Margaret is sitting on the swing looking really comfortable. They are telling me interesting stories about school. Margaret says some teachers can be really nice or really mean. And the only thing that Louis hates about school is the homework… Spending this time with them, it feels so nice. It feels like home. It feels... surreal…
“She finally slept.”
“Yes, it’s finally over. Our Emily has found a better place to fall asleep.”
“Is that a paper on her hand, honey?”
“I think so. Oh yes, it is. I’ll have a look at it.”
“What did she write? … I see. She missed Margaret and Louis.”
“She must’ve written this before she closed her eyes and dreamt about them.”
“At least, she met them in her dreams while she was asleep.”
“It wasn’t a dream for her. It was real… Dreams are only real as long as they last.”
“I am dying to be free.”
These are the thoughts of Rachel who is dying to live. So often she feels trapped in the box that her life has become. This box is not made of cardboard or paper, but rather glass: Rachel can see what's around her but it's out of reach. She can hold her finger up to the sky but there is always a thin sheet separating who and where she is and where she wants to be.
There are so many places that Rachel wants to go, things she wants to do, yet she is stuck in the endless, mindless routine of class, work and hours upon hours of studying. Her body runs on the fuel of caffeine. She feels trapped, stuck in her box, desperately looking for a way to touch what's outside.
Without a doubt, politics has captured the media’s eye more frequently than many see necessary. I, in a way, have been ubiquitously exposed to political correctness, acceptance, and open-mindedness through various mediums.
Life in a way, is all about politics. Because if there’s one thing I’ve definitely learnt from my life, is that everything is political. It’s a simple concept, really. Politics has never been only limited to the government. It has and still exists in each of our lives, and indirectly constructs on how we interact socially with society. I’d also like to say that to some degree, how others perceive us concerns us, so we adopt certain personas we know will leave specific impressions on certain people. And hey, guess what? Much like politicians in our government, we too want to impress others, don’t we? Demonstrate where we stand on issues? And oh, even cover up our ugliness (cough).
Each interaction that one makes with another person is different, therefore unique, also forcing us to change face multiple times a day, depending on who we surround ourselves with. Whether it is slightly tweaking your dialect, or putting on a totally different persona; we all do it, whether we are conscious of it or not. It’s not a bad thing, always. I mean, you know who you are in this case. Like so, an example of this would be a conversation you have with your best friend, versus conversations you might have with your grandparents. With your best friends, you might talk about that one crazy house party that got out of hand, or the reckless things you guys did. But with your grandmother, you might prefer to only talk about how well you are doing in your classes, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want to find out that you smoke weed, or that you’ve been skipping classes for a week.
My point is that we keep trying to keep up certain images by selectively spilling out certain details of our lives to particular individuals. Sometimes we have to filter what we say in order to maintain political correctness with some people; but sometimes we are lucky enough to meet a group of people who do not care whether we have a filter or not. Not to mention that even our definition of “dress to impress” changes depending on where we are present. For example, when going out to a bar or club with your friends, you might wear a flattering outfit; while we dress professionally when we are either attending a job fair or a job interview. What you wear can determine your initial impression on people, which could lead to potential social or professional connections.
Thanks to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. we have the power to construct how we express our opinions and personalities with our friends, family, and total strangers. From status updates, to filters on photographs, social media makes it easier to carefully edit how we present ourselves; thus allowing us to mold an online persona. With all this masking, tweaking, and filtering that happens on a daily basis, at the end of the day we sometimes wonder, ‘How much of this persona is really us?’ We sometimes work so hard to build up an image, that we sacrifice the true essence of what it means to be us. Have we become slaves to the expectations of others, living our lives to impress them, and the worst part is that sometimes we don’t even have a choice?
Being involved with societies, I realize that I have gained more of an awareness and understanding of other people's identities, while at the same time constructing my own. If you were to ask me, one year ago, about my current self, then I never would have imagined the disparity between the two personas. Being exposed to educational experiences in addition to various talks and conversations I have had with peers and teachers has made me critical of society for the better. To what extent, however, should be determined at a later date.
When others around me would gossip about the actions of presidents or the budgets for school functions, I would intentionally disconnect and shut myself out from the world, hoping that one day, I would be able to live successfully and in peace without having to involve myself within these parameters.
The idea of society was a topic I attempted to avoid throughout my childhood, mainly due to a mixture of disinterest and fear regarding the future. When others around me would gossip about the actions of presidents or the budgets for school functions, I would intentionally disconnect and shut myself out from the world, hoping that one day, I would be able to live successfully and in peace without having to involve myself within these parameters. However, therein lies the paradox; one cannot reject the world and still expect to thrive in the same area.
So I’ve been thinking and speaking regarding this matter that, in our society, we seem to have created a hierarchy of –isms and –phobias. There seems to be an idea of comparison. For example, we seem to mostly agree that racism is worse than sexism, sexism is worse than homophobia, homophobia is worse than transphobia… etc. The list goes on. If anyone is surprised by this, I urge you to listen more closely to how we perceive the struggles of others.
For example, we seem to mostly agree that racism is worse than sexism, sexism is worse than homophobia, homophobia is worse than transphobia… etc.
Well, perhaps amongst minorities, there appears to be a one-up-man-ship that plagues our conversations. This doesn’t just keep minorities in any discipline or location from creating safer spaces overall, it also invalidates the experiences and feelings of others. And more than that, it tends to put us in a place where we measure suffering on an objective scale which tells us that, we can’t possibly feel marginalized when there are people much worse off. Thus. It’s so simple to divide ourselves by our suffering and never move beyond pitying those who seem to endure the most hardship.
Harmless, indeed. But what I think is that we don’t consciously realize that, by creating this sense of hierarchy, we aren’t actually helping anyone. Nope, we’re not helping those who “suffer the most”, given that we place them into a group apart from ourselves and never actually learn about how to work as their allies. And nope, we’re not helping “the least marginalized” either, because we have this notion that their trauma is somehow less because we have compared it to people who should be struggling so much more. We are actually widening the gap, instead of bridging it. Of course, I don’t know a valid reason why we do this but, can our suffering really be measured objectively?
For sure, I could never fully understand the struggles of someone who isn’t well off. I may be able to relay my experiences being a minority in a variety of spaces, but could never begin to imagine what it would be like to suffer from an institutionalized racism on a daily basis. As an individual, I would feel uncomfortable in assuming that I somehow understand or know what life is like for an indigenous. Afro-American, or Hispanic person. But does this make anyone’s struggles any less real or legitimate? Does this mean that life is perfect and that some people’s experiences of discrimination can be brushed off due to their privilege in a number of areas? Heck no.
I used to think being an ally meant to step into the struggle someone else was facing and, once I felt what they felt, use it to relate to others why discrimination, -isms and -phobias in that one area are wrong. But I can’t step into and truly feel the struggle of anyone else, which is precisely why this hierarchy is... meaningless. This hierarchy separates me from the stories and experiences that would help me best understand my peers and their struggles. Because I can’t step into their shoes, listening to their stories is the only way I could possibly begin to learn what it means to be an ally for a community I’m not a part of.
So, how can this hierarchy be broken down? A question that I’m struggling to find concrete answers to. When will I find the answers, I’ll never know.
It was just a day like any other, I was scrolling through my Twitter in the living room until I noticed the hashtag “#PrayforChristina” which later then, became “#RipChristinaGrimmie”. For those of you who have read the news (which I believe you should have by now), the 22-year-old ‘Voice’ singer was shot dead at Orlando Concert. Then, my phone notified an incoming message from a friend.
“You heard about that shooting? That youtuber Christina Grimmie is dead.”
At that very moment, I felt my heart sank. Something inside of me died a little. It made me feel sick at the thought of a 22-year-old girl being shot in her own concert. All she wanted was to sing, to live her dreams, to live her life. She didn’t ask to be killed. It was absolutely undeserving for her to be shot in front of her brother.
This is definitely not the first shooting. I mean, what else is new under the sun? I can’t speak to the past because I wasn’t there, and I’m not a part of that time. Though, what I do noticed is that the conversation about mass shootings in the past year or so has started to make me very sick. How are people getting used to this? This can’t continue. People shouldn’t be living in a constant fear. I can feel the outrage and pain. Scrolling through Facebook, you can see people demanding change in legislation, people praying in their own faith, people just preaching for peace and love. Not all of us are blind. We see what’s happening and are terrified by it. We don’t intend to disregard these feelings. Why? Because they are real, they are valid, they are important.
To be fair, I don’t have a solution that can completely stop people from killing others. I don’t know how to fight with anything but words. I don’t know how or where we can start changing. I don’t know what drives a person to take an innocent life. But I do know that we are very much becoming desensitized to these News. Just another shooting turned into a new Facebook status. Sometimes, we lose the gravity of what has happened, of lives that were taken away.
Over the last year, gun control was a hot debate topic. Regardless of which side of the debate a person stands, we can all agree that gun violence is a high profile issue in the United States. It truly is a sad thing, as many of their politicians vote on these laws in order to make it all safer. There is never an ending argument over the Second Amendment.
Countless times I’ve heard people saying "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Very true. I do agree that a gun without someone to pull the trigger won't kill anyone, but that doesn't change what a gun's entire purpose is: to kill, and they make it very easy to take lives from yards away. Like most people, I also wish I lived in a world where no one will inflict harm to another. I wish I could walk down empty streets knowing no one around me had a secret motive or wanted to bring pain to others, but life isn’t a fairy-tale. As morbid I sound, we live in a scary world. Some feel better knowing that others around them have guns and can stop potentially devastating events. And if someone wants to commit a crime and use a gun, they will find a way regardless of the laws. But really, enough is enough.
“Rest in peace, Christina Grimmie. You shall be dearly missed.”
Cough cough. Well, let’s see, I pledge allegiance to a nation of easily offended citizens. Are you offended yet? Never mind, because if you haven’t noticed, we now live in a constantly offended, enraged culture. Recently, people seem to be offended by things they didn’t care about last week. And suddenly, things that have never been offensive, now are (LOL). So why is everyone suddenly offended by things they didn’t care about a week ago?
Thinking that only your opinion matters, and that everyone and anyone who disagrees with you is incorrect.
Anyone who disagrees with someone else is technically labelled as a ‘hater’ or ‘ignorant’. You wanna know what’s ignorant? Thinking that only your opinion matters, and that everyone and anyone who disagrees with you is incorrect. Of course… EVERY ONE ELSE is wrong. Except You. Not only that, but anyone who disagrees or speaks his/her point of view will be insulted. The media though, are definitely making use of this and, honestly, should you be pissed off? That’s completely up to you, sunshine. The media manipulates people and sometimes, most arguments stem from the media.
I just can’t scroll down my Facebook newsfeed without every other article being centered on something “offensive”. Being offended is a choice. Completely a choice. Of course to certain extends, there are some exceptions. There are certain things that shouldn’t have been said, but still our generation is admittedly very… easily insulted, and sensitive. Many people have differing opinions. Yes, some people are just plain and dare I say it… Dumb. I’ve witnessed through Twitter, where people are offended on issues of race, politics, gender, sexuality, and so on.
Maybe because I don’t have a strong opinion or have anything to do with a certain matter, I don’t have a right to speak, but when someone can’t even make a joke about a topic because there will be a massive backlash, that’s where I think it’s gone overboard. Of course, it all falls back on the context and purpose of the joke too. I understand that people can be sensitive about certain subjects, we all are. But if someone is uninformed on a matter, instead of firing them with insults, inform them. Adding fuel to the fire is only going to produce more ignorance.
We claim to be open-minded, but are we really? For example, there are tons of clothing items that have made news for being “offensive”. And if you’re offended by a shirt, don’t buy it. Simple as that. Or, don’t shop at that clothing department. But no, we have to post on a social media to claim how “offended” we are by a wholly irrelevant essay of that piece of cloth. Perhaps we’re giving ourselves the right to be insulted by a design probably created by an out-of-touch designer who’s just craving for attention? And hey, you made his plan worked. Congrats! You’re now officially easily offended citizen!
Are we such a generation so entitled that we believe other people should walk on eggshells so as to not to offend us? Pehh, give me a break.
In all honesty, it doesn’t make any sense. Are we such a generation so entitled that we believe other people should walk on eggshells so as to not to offend us? Pehh, give me a break. Freedom of speech is a wonderful right, and by claiming offense, in my personal opinion, we’re undermining that right. If everyone is going to constantly speak ever so carefully, so many celebrities and politicians come under fire for being offensive. I had a dream… A dream that one day, people could say what they want to say, and design what they want to design, without unaffected individuals taking insult.
Anyway, if you’re offended by this article, feel free to express your concerns by closing this tab and finding a new hobby.
Would you consider your music taste to be mainstream, or hipster-ish? I mean, come on. Does that really matter?
When you think of your own taste in music, you wouldn’t always consider yourself to be unique when you’re head banging to the radio blaring Whiplash – Metallica. Instead, you’re completely in the zone. You’re in the zone where you enjoy and are actually having fun with the music. Oddly though, some of us believe that it’s shameful to listen to mainstream music because it shows that we “lack taste”.
Please, please, please… PLEASE. Learn to explore music not for the sake of being trendy, but instead for the sake of looking for good music.
Good music is everywhere, and there is something meant for each and every one out there, even for you. Whether on the billboard hot 100 chart or on band camp that has only been heard by a few, good music IS everywhere. You just need to listen.
If you take a step back into history, you’d realize that the social music hierarchy isn’t new. Back in the 70s, people who listened to classic rock felt that people who listened to disco were lame. And guess what? People who listened to contemporary jazz in the 80s felt the same way about people who listened to pop too. This social hierarchy is just… a by-product of people being close-minded towards new and old music.
Relax, take some time to listen to music you’d never thought of listening to. Look, if Gwen Stefani can go from punk to pop, Katy Perry from gospel music to pop, and Taylor Swift from country to pop, then I’m darn sure you can spare 3 minutes listening to death metal, post-rock, or blues. You’re just limiting yourself if you only listen to what you’re comfortable with and not giving something new a chance. Leaping into other genres allows you to complete a life changing experience (for me, at least). You’re opening doors to new artists and movements that can give you a new perspective on music history or perhaps, life in general.
“Good music is everywhere, even in the genres that you’d never dare to cross paths with.”