The internet has allowed everyone to know that they aren’t alone – no matter what you are and feel – the internet allows you to find community with others like yourself, and more, to allow other people to know that they know people like that.
Like everything, this cuts both ways, good in that it at once makes gay teens know that you can be a happy and successful gay person – but it also affords community to people with anti-social or criminal behaviours, for whom I decline to include links; as “being discriminating” is different than “discriminating.”
Because most people are not criminal or anti-social, the internet is more often a force of good than a perpetuation of bad. Because ending the limitation of a person to their physical environment and demographics has made the world smaller and people can improve their understanding and exposure to other cultures, other ideas including religions – and start to see humanity as a whole, rather than this or that part in relationship to each other in a hierarchy of goodness or entitlement.
The internet, being the social leveler, is the tool by which people can really begin to relate multiculturally and realize that most cultures are equally valid and provide for thriving and productive societies while repressive cultures – be they religiously or politically repressed – do not allow for thriving, inventive or productive/progressive societies.
The internet allows the abolishment of discriminatory ideas and replaces them with discerning ideas, of understanding cultures in relationships other than “Us vs Them” or even mainstream cultures in relationship to their subcultures, replacing the “Us at the expense of You” with understanding that while we have individual variation, group variation, we are all variations on the same theme – humanity.
Our ability to be inclusive of all humanity is often dependent and limited by ensure our own needs are met first, before we can include others – and it is not enough to say, “I got mine so the line is drawn after me” – actually, it’s pretty terrible to say that – but that is what people who are against change are saying.
It’s not enough to listen to hear what the person is saying, you have to demonstrate that you understand – and you don’t demonstrate understanding by repeating or paraphrasing, you have to say what you understood.
People who resist change are resisting social change because they believe that they are losing something – what they are losing is their social status. By saying everyone is equal is to say that no one is special, unique or above the law. Secular law in democratic countries is in essence, saying we are all equal before the law of the land.
Which is why religious people claim sacred law to be above secular law, because under their “sacred laws” they are not equal to others, they are better, chosen, special, to be rewarded just for being members of the religious group.
They try by the word to include more people as evidence of their religious love for others – but in order for them to enjoy the religious afterlife reward, others must be denied this reward, so the claim of spreading the word to save people also serves to give notice of afterlife punishment for failing to embrace the religion that is now known to you.
Which explains in a way why believers are always pushing their religion, because either you are saved by the word or condemned by it – and either way suits the believer equally – but with nothing to back up the word, believers must revert to the sword method of either forcing the belief or dispatching you onto the eternal judgment.
It is the lack of compelling evidence, combined with the rigid worldview, fanatical devotion needed to sustain the cognitive dissonance between religion and reality, that the believer resorts to violence as a warning to others to obey or to punish people for failing to obey. In the marketplace of ideas, especially in the digital world, religion is a poor competitor without being propped up by traditional unquestioning and special consideration and threat of or actual violence.
Civilization is a struggle between tradition and progress – and religion is a force for tradition, as it codifies the status quo and social norms, resulting in benefits to few and oppression/control of the many.
By shifting our human experience from what we can observe and interact with in our immediate environment, community and organization into cities, regions, nations to the virtual world where international boundaries no longer have meaning and the exchange of ideas, experience, commonality and community is achieved, is a new social leveler and true equalizer.
We are no longer limited to what publishers or production studios chose to produce and market to us – we are all able to write, make music, movies and broadcast or distribute – we are not limited to being consumers, we are all contributors and as a consequence, are able to be consumers of a much wider range of ideas and experiences – we can understand ourselves in the greater context of the diversity of humanity – and stand as equal, equivalent, as good as any other – and better than some and worse than others – and be able to distinguish.
Multiculturalism is not all cultures as equal, but as all cultures as equally deserving of the opportunity to be judged according to its own merits in relationship to other cultures – equality itself must be earned by the culture – and cultures that repress any part of their population and codify or allow discrimination are not deserving of equal consideration or status.
Often this is a discernment that is missed by multicultural proponents who equalize all without understanding the relationship or blinding themselves to it so as to avoid offense.
But when religious believers demonstrate no qualm in actual or threatened violence when faced with freedom of expression or reality that does not support religious claims, we have reached the point where we should not be coddling religious sensibilities – yes, they will be violent and we should not protect religious sensibilities from the awareness of their own actions and ideas.
The time for a measured and nuanced secular approach to religion is at hand, and it is cosmically poetic that the age of information is scientifically ushered in and allowing the internet to be the Renaissance of the Digital Age, the collective pool of knowledge and consciousness of humanity – the digital enlightenment to push religion and extreme ideology to the darker recesses of society, so stand as one and say, no more violence, no more bullying, no more ignorance. No more.