I have a confession, I am a bad Canadian: I don’t care if the Canucks win the Cup, I just want an end to the street closures in Vancouver down to facilitate mobs of people watching overpaid adult men playing children’s games on huge TV screens in downtown gathering places.
In this battle, I have always firmly been on the smock side looking with some dismay at the amount of money shoveled into sports at every level.
If even a portion of that largess was distributed into the arts, especially at the beginner and emerging levels, we would have a far more sophisticated culture; because the ability to create and produce art is only possible when all other needs are taken care of.
In the days when humans were sustenance hunter/gatherers, there was no time or even knowledge to make pottery, never mind decorate it. The creation of art requires not only leisure time, but labour specialization within the group and not only sharing the products of that labour, but having a surplus.
When a group is secure in their food, then time is freed up for invention, arts and science; resulting in developing more efficient and labour saving tools that ultimately leads to more time for other than sustenance pursuits.
Including, developing sports and games – which are essentially scaled down simulations of hunting and war, scaled down to teach child the skills and they’d need as adults – playing house, playing doctor and playing war – and to keep adult males occupied in times of peace and plenty.
I enjoyed playing sports when I was a child but have never really understood watching other people play. As an older but not quite teen, I was usually picked to umpire or referee rather than to be on either team.
I could get behind sports if it were a replacement for warfare, as I see no difference between winning being determined by slaughtering the opposing side versus scoring more on the other side.
Sports as a replacement for armies and warfare would have many social benefits. Nations would have to develop infrastructure and a healthy population to produce teams that have a chance to win.
Games played to settle disputes between nations would not result in destroyed cities and infrastructure, no loss of life, no famine, disease or rape camps.
Games for points and leagues could continue as exhibition wars, with only points and money at stake.
Plus, there would be huge money to be made on broadcasting rights and huge savings for not having to support massive military industries.
The military industry could be remade into industries developing more space exploration, undertake ocean exploration in earnest and renewable energy technology. What industry could do positively for civilization when directed at anything other than better ways to destroy each other is unlimited.
So, let’s re-image sports from being warfare practice into being action diplomacy, let sports be a wholesale replacement of war.
All the backlash through the years of Western Christians censoring, protesting and demanding that various art works not be published, screened or displayed because the work critiques their broad category religion and the more recent actual violence over Islamic art critiques, has made me wonder.
When did the respect for person’s right or entitlement to a religious belief of their choice start to include respect for the belief itself?
We seem to be in a time where people think that they have the right to not be offended. I find that offensive.
Offense is essentially a clash of rights. But how do we balance one person’s rights against another’s when offense seems to be greater the more the offended party feels entitled to said rights.
There’s this idea of inalienable rights enshrined at in the UN’s declaration and in many Western countries charters and bills of rights.
But are rights really inalienable?
I don’t think so – if they were, wouldn’t they be defacto in all countries?
Wouldn’t each person find it difficult to not respect other people’s rights? Especially when it comes to the big ones like life, bodily integrity and even property?
Particularly when property rights don’t seem to be enshrined anywhere – buying a plot of land doesn’t entitle you to keep it if your government or powerful enough other people/corporations want it.
Wouldn’t everyone understand that one person’s right to swing their arm ends at the point that someone else’s nose begins?
So, why does the religious person’s offense and sense of rights entitlement often override the other religious believer or non-believer’s right to freedom of expression, assembly and their access to art works or information that the religious find offensive.
Can’t the believers just not go to the movie theatre or the art gallery during the time of the offensive display? Or not buy the book, skip that page of the paper, not click on the website or plain avoid what they find distasteful?
At this point in the argument, this is when believers try to make a plea that their offense is reasonable by comparing it to things that are plainly offensive to 99% of the population – the standbys are pedophilia and bestiality.
But, these aren’t relevant or comparable to artistic expression, ideas or someone else’s rights – since pedophilia and bestiality plainly cause harm – and for the child or teen, it’s an infringement of their rights and it sometimes is for the animal, country dependent.
Oh, and if the right under debate is gay marriage, then polygamy is brought into play. Never polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands), interestingly enough.
But, polygamy isn’t relevant to gay marriage since gay marriage actually doesn’t change the nature of marriage in the west – which is 2 people exclusive of all others.
In polygamy, it’s one man married to several women – the women aren’t married to each other. While polygamy is legal in many countries around the world, this was usually referred to in Canada and the US as bigamy and is a criminal code offense.
Marriage is essentially contract law – and with it comes legal kinship and over 1000 rights under various other laws – and these rights are linked to kinship, inheritance, property, power of attorney, immigration sponsorship, separation, taxes and everything else that requires you to check a box on a form that indicates your marital status.
That religions originally had control over marriage – partly as an income stream for the ceremony, partly as a means to control peoples behaviour – doesn’t mean that marriage in the middle ages and earlier wasn’t also a means to consolidate wealth in particular socio-economic strata, make allegiances at the state or family or business level.
The idea of romantic love being the basis for marriage is actually pretty new – and pretty much until women were allowed to vote and hold property – guess what – they were marital property.
Isn’t that offensive to our modern sensibility?
People do have under the law in many countries, the right to belief in the religion of their choice. You don’t tend to have this right in a theocratic country though – telling, isn’t it?
But one person beleiving in a particular religion does not obligate people who do not beleive in that religion to obey the rules of said religion.
Otherwise, everyone would have to follow all religions and not only would that not lead to anything productive going on – being too weak or tired from not eating and meditiating and praying all the time, but most of the year would be religious holidays.
Atheism isn’t a religion, but has gained the legal status at the US Supreme Court as an on-par belief – so everyone having to observe this also throws a monkey wrench into the all religions all the time mix.
The reality is that we as a society do not deem all ideas on par with all others.
When we have a discussion or class about WWII, we do not include holocaust deniers. When we have a biology class, we should not be “teaching the controversy”.
We as individuals get to pick and chose what we believe and what we don’t – no matter how repugnant it is to everyone else. And, we get to teach those beliefs to our children and it’s up to them to keep them or reject them.
Social norms are culturally dependent and they vary from time period to time period and country/region to country/region. And even between cultural subgroups in the same geographic location. Immigrant groups tend to become a blend of old country and new country over time – and a large enough immigration wave and a welcoming enough new country, that new country also experiences something of a slower change. The sum of the parts thing.
Wow, all those connected ideas is making my wandering mind tired.
It comes down to this – we can only get along as long as everyone has the same rights, entitlements and basic treatment as anyone else in a geographic region.
Otherwise, resentments and ghettoizing occurs and that benefits no one, as that tends to erupt in riots.
As long as we all accord everyone the same amount of rights as ourselves – and mostly to recognize that someone else having rights does not impede our own in any way – we can get along.
Pretending that our differences don’t exist will not work. Better to acknowledge that each of us – as individuals as well as our under each of our various group identities – all being different doesn’t make us all the same – and difference doesn’t always translate into inferior, just different.
We really only have the rights that our legal system allows us – but our ability to act in accordance with those rights has become limited by the backlash of other people who expect rights of their own and none for anyone else.
This should not be acceptable to anyone.
As a lesbian who came out in the early 1990’s, when it was legal to be evicted, not hired/fired, denied services and it was not legal to be married, sponsor an immigrant partner and you had no real expectation of protection from police – in fact, it wasn’t that much earlier when the police were the bashers – yes, even in Canada.
I understand that rights are dependent on law and the “generosity” of the population – people who have always had them do not understand this.
Times change, and what offends people changes.
So let’s stop finding offense at what people 1000 or more years ago would find offensive.
If we can’t do that, then at least remember that you aren’t entitled to or have a right to not be offended.