Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Post 899, In Which I Do Not Blaspheme
Today was International Blasphemy Day. The purpose of the day is "to remind the world that religion should never again be beyond open and honest discussion." I support the principle behind the occasion--it is important to protect the right of free speech that has so often been denied by religious authorities with more power than they should have had, and it is equally important to remember that ideas are not immune to criticism simply because they are based in faith--but I have chosen not to participate. I have little respect for religion itself and not much more for most religious organizations, but I respect and love a lot of religious people. If I were to blaspheme publicly for the sake of blaspheming, I might succeed in making the statement the day is meant to make, but I would also likely offend many people I've no reason or desire to offend.
A couple of years ago a close friend of mine observed that I "care about people more than ideologies or institutions"; as this came from someone whose opinion I value very highly, I was quite flattered by her observation. I don't know that it's always true--I often let my ideologies get in the way of my concern for people--but I certainly try to make it true. Ideals are important to me, but ultimately I believe the living, breathing human being standing in front of me is far more important than whatever ideology separates us.
That said, I believe it's for the good of the world that there are also people who are willing to offend, to be in-your-face and confrontational in order to make the rest of us question our ideologies. I simply am not one of these people and couldn't be if I tried; confrontation makes me physical sick, knowing that I've offended someone makes it impossible for me to think of anything but that offense for days or weeks thereafter. If everyone in the world were so weak-kneed, we might never have any wars, but we might also never effect meaningful change. I like to think there's room in this world for both warriors and peacemakers. If it doesn't offend you, I'll stick to being the latter of the two.