Gay Marriage Response – Colin Tipping’s follow up blog…

May 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm (Causes, Interesting stories) (, )

So very very true, and so eloquently put. Read Colin’s other blogs here…

From Colin Tipping: I want to thank all the people who have responded to my last blog.  So far there are 60 comments listed, most of them very positive and in agreement with my view as expressed. I am sure that, deep down, most of the people in this country favor making gay marriage legal and it will soon come to pass as people overcome their discomfort with the idea. I enjoyed reading all your comments, including those that argued against my position.

I’d like to add one more thing to the debate, though, which is somewhat peripheral to the gay marriage issue but is often  implied in discussions like this.  It is, that while I have no objection to people choosing to have their personal morality prescribed by a religious authority, I do have a real problem with the idea that religious beliefs and morality are the same. This implies that people without religious beliefs have no access to moral reasoning and have no true moral compass.

On the contrary, I think that to rely purely on some religious text for one’s guidance on how to live a good life is to abrogate moral responsibility.  Morality does not come from religion.  Morality is derived from ethics which are immutable agreements about how we should treat each other.  Those agreements have been crafted by intelligent human beings over centuries of evolution according to certain principles like fairness, tolerance, humility, respect, honesty, integrity, forgiveness, etc., and on spiritual values like compassion and love. Some religious have co-opted these principles into their teachings, but the ethical principles came first, not the other way around. We don’t need religion to teach us those principles.

Moreover, if we rely too much on religious teachings, we fail to develop a strong ethical and moral self.  In fact, religious beliefs are often cited as a justification for acting in ways that are anything but moral or ethical.  9/11 is a case in point.  The last words the guys flying those planes screamed was, “God is Great.”

That’s an extreme case, I know, but in essence it’s no different to denying happiness to a group of people on the basis of a belief prescribed by others who claim some moral authority over everyone else.  It is no different to a group of people in Africa deciding that their religion justifies female circumcision and that one cannot create a law against it for that reason. A lot of immoral behavior becomes protected, even by law, if it is claimed to be part of one’s religious belief.  And that is the road that the States are taking in deciding to ban gay marriage on religious grounds even though it goes against more than a few ethical principles.

Visit Colin Tipping’s website here.

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A beautiful blog about marriage equality

May 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm (Causes, Interesting stories) (, )

“Real moral dilemmas have at their core the question of who gets hurt? Making same sex marriage legal would hurt no one. Therefore it doesn’t count as a moral issue in my mind.”

So writes author, motivational speaker and Radical Forgiveness founder Colin Tipping in a beautiful new blog that I hope everyone will read. He emigrated to the US in 1984, from the UK, and has been living there ever since… You can read my interview with Colin here to find out more about him, or visit his website here.

This is Colin’s blog post… Such beautiful words and simple truths.

Gay Marriage and the Moral High Ground – a Message From Colin Tipping

Greetings!

The debate about gay marriage took an interesting turn last week when the President of the United States said he supported it. I think most people would agree, that Mr. Obama is a very thoughtful and intelligent man. Up to now, he has admitted his discomfort with the idea of same sex marriage, and I believe that had he found a single valid legal or moral ground on which to legitimately oppose it, he would have done so.

But like everyone else, including those who vehemently oppose it, he could find none beyond his own irrational and very human discomfort with the idea. But, his resistance notwithstanding, what he and countless others in this county have come to realize is that the moral LOW ground is in creating laws to prevent it. That’s because they seriously hurt people.

Real moral dilemmas have at their core the question of who gets hurt? Abortion, for example, is a very contentious moral debate because, either way, there is a party who gets hurt – the fetus if you do it, and the mother who is forced to go to term when that is not her choice or in her best interest, if you don’t.   So, people legitimately take positions on the issue and do their best to argue it out. That’s true moral discourse.

Making same sex marriage legal would hurt no one. Therefore it doesn’t count as a moral issue in my mind. The only thing it asks us to do is to overcome our natural resistance to the idea that the term marriage might be applied to anyone regardless of gender. The extent of our pain around it amounts to nothing more than our being willing to give up a long-held habit of mind. That’s not moral discourse. It is rigidity of mind and a lack of compassion.

Who would deny that slavery was the result of a long-held habit of mind among white Americans-that the negro race was inferior and sub-human and that they could legitimately be bought and sold as slaves? Look how long that habit of mind endured, not just by a few bad people but by the vast majority, at least in the south. Same thing with the Germans agreeing to exterminating the Jews. How long would that have endured had the Germans won the war?

I have to ask my African American brothers and sisters who voted to ban same sex marriage on the grounds of what is in the Bible, if they were to find a reference in the Bible (written many hundreds of years ago and translated many times since it was written), that slavery is justifiable, would they be willing to be enslaved again on those grounds alone? I doubt it. Then why deny homosexuals the freedom that your ancestors fought so bravely for and that you enjoy today, simply because of what you read in the Bible? Jesus taught us to love and accept each other, not to hurt others in defense of our own righteousness.

Today, when we look back at how we justified 200 years of slavery and Jim Crow discrimination against blacks, we are all deeply ashamed. We cannot imagine, today, how people could have thought that that was OK. I believe the children and grandchildren of all the people who have voted to ban gay marriage in all the states that have done so up to now, thereby depriving gay people of their civil rights and their freedom to be who they are, will carry the burden of shame on behalf of their parents in much the same way for many years to come.

To express your thoughts or comments on this please visit Colin’s blog here.

 

There have been some passionate replies to Colin’s blog, both for and against. I’m glad dialogue is opening up, and I am grateful to Colin and others for publicly expressing what is in their heart… This is what is in mine…

Dear Colin,
Thank you so much for your beautiful and well reasoned post. It breaks my heart that people continue to discriminate against others based on their sexuality – out of fear, out of ignorance, out of a misguided notion that they are “right”, or have the right to decide how someone else should live, or judge who is worthy of love and of having their love recognised. I totally agree that this is not a moral dilemma. Two people who love each other and want to commit to each other don’t hurt anyone else. It affects no one else. It doesn’t take anything away from anyone else. It doesn’t stop anyone else being able to marry if they want to. And gay couples may or may not want to marry anyway, but they should definitely have the right to do so, the same right I had to marry the person I love. Me being married affects no one else, so why would two of my friends who are gay being married affect anyone else? It doesn’t.
It upsets me when people insist that it is a choice to be gay. No one would choose to be disowned by their family… to be persecuted and harassed at home and at work… to be denied basic human rights that others take for granted… to be told they are wrong, evil, not good enough… to be denied the chance to tell the person they love how much they mean to them and make a legal commitment to them.
To those who question the effect of having gay parents, several studies have actually found that children of gay parents do better at school and equally well in life as anyone with straight parents. You can read a very moving article from some of these children here: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4012552.html. Love is the most essential element of parenting, whether you are brought up by a single parent, adoptive parent, step parent, gay parent or straight parent(s), and love is by no means restricted only to the latter. (Maria, your love and acceptance of your stepson is beautiful and sadly all too rare. I honour you for having the courage to follow your heart despite what you’d been brought up to believe. It is so frustrating that so many religious people cherry pick the bits of the Bible they will follow, and discard the rest. We have evolved enough to recognise that slavery is wrong, that stoning people to death is wrong, that selling your daughter into slavery is wrong, despite what it says in the Bible. This seems to be the one last thing people won’t let go of…)
I am so happy that the American President has evolved his thinking, and spoken in support of marriage equality. Not because he has vowed to actually make it happen (he hasn’t, as he sees it as a matter for the States), but because his words, and his acceptance, have the potential to save lives. Too many people who are gay are driven to suicide by the constant message that they are wrong, that they are less than, that they deserve to die. Too many parents still reject their children for being gay because society has told them that they should. Mr Obama’s recent comments may not change the legislation, but they will go a long way to changing attitudes, to telling people it is okay to be themselves, to love and be loved, and that one day (soon I hope), we will no longer be judged on our sexuality, our race, our gender or anything else but who we are inside, and that equality applies to all people.
Thank you so much Colin for helping to open a few minds, and for adding your voice to the call for love and equality.

 

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Symbolically Adopt an Endangered Animal through WFF

January 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm (Causes) (, , , , , , )

I used some of my Christmas money to symbolically adopt a polar bear through WWF and the Hunger Site. And I was overwhelmed when a dear friend adopted a snowy owl for me for my birthday through WWF Australia (which looks a lot like Harry Potter’s beloved Hedwig). It’s a beautiful way to donate to a wonderful charity that works so hard to save and protect endangered animals, providing funds for them, and also adding a personal edge that makes it even more meaningful. I got an adorable certificate with a picture of the snowy owl, which I’ve put on my wall.

Buy Charity Gifts from $50 with WWF Animal Adoptions
Adopting an animal is a great way to show a loved one that you care not only for them, but also for the world around you. For a one-off fee, you will not only be providing funds to help an endangered species survive in the wild, but also giving a great gift. You can adopt a tiger, an orangutan, a panda, a pygmy elephant and more…

What Will the Recipient Get from the Charity Gift?
* Collectible display folder with photo of your chosen animal.
* Adoption certificate.
* Informative fact sheet about the animal.

You can also “adopt” an animal via a monthly payment, and receive:
* A cuddly soft toy of the animal.
* An adoption pack.
* Updates from the field.

If you adopt a tiger for instance, you are helping to:
* Restore fragmented areas of habitat so tigers can move between them.
* Strengthen anti-poaching patrols around nature reserves.
* Reduce conflict between people and tigers.
* Reduce poaching and illegal trade of live tigers and tiger parts.
* Ensure conservation laws are enforced.
Your support will also help fund other essential WWF conservation work around the world. Their priorities at the moment include protecting sea turtles, dugongs, whales, dolphins, tigers, orangutans, pandas, pygmy elephants and rock wallabies.

About WWF
With more than 40 years experience at an international level, and more than 25 years of operation in Australia, WWF is the world’s largest and most influential conservation organisation. Founded in 1961, WWF is active in more than a hundred countries and has close to five million supporters internationally. WWF’s global mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. In Australia and throughout the oceanic region, WWF works with governments, businesses and communities so that people and nature can thrive within their fair share of the planet’s natural resources.
WWF-Australia is part of the WWF International Network, the world’s leading, independent conservation organisation. In Australia WWF also works closely with Indigenous communities to protect the country’s native plants and animals and their habitats in order to deliver enduring conservation outcomes. WWF-Australia is a not-for-profit organisation with nearly 70% of our annual income donated by our dedicated supporters. Their new five-year plan has identified six important initiatives to capitalise on WWF-Australia’s strengths:
Great Barrier Reef
Southwest Australia Ecoregion
Transforming Markets
Heart of Borneo
Climate Change
Coral Triangle / Southwest Pacific

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Save Japan Dolphins

August 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm (Causes) (, , )

Just read an inspiring interview with Ric O’Barry, dolphin protector and peaceful protester, and one of my heroes. The Taiji dolphin hunt is about to begin again, and he will be there to bear witness… He also praises the Japanese island that is encouraging dolphin watching and snorkelling with them – which is creating a long-term tourism industry with economic benefits, rather than killing them for short-term financial gain… And he reiterates – again – that eating dolphin is not a Japanese cultural tradition. Few Japanese people actually eat dolphin (at least not knowingly), and their meat is so full of mercury that it’s a health hazard to consume it. With Ric’s encouragement, a few very brave locals from Taiji got contaminated dolphin meat off the school lunch menu. There were repercussions, as any challenge to a million-dollar-industry feeling threatened will find, but they put the health of their children, and the freedom of dolphins, above their fear…

Read the interview here, check out Ric’s regular blog, and consider donating to his group Save Japan Dolphins.

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40 Hour Famine

July 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm (Causes, News and updates) (, , , , )

I’m doing the World Vision 40 Hour Famine again this year, from Friday night August 19 to Sunday afternoon the 21st, and I’m very grateful to all those who have sponsored me so far. Even a few dollars will make a huge difference in a small, hungry child’s life – and so many people have been so generous this year.

The 40 Hour Famine is one of Australia’s biggest community awareness & youth fundraising events. It is a powerful – and meaningful – way that Australians can experience what life is like for children who have to go without. Every. Single. Day. By giving up food (or something else that really matters to you) for 40 hours, you can raise funds for kids living in poverty overseas.

And you can make a massive difference: $40 can feed a family of five for a month.

World Vision Australia started the 40 Hour Famine in 1975, to raise money to help children, their families and communities in desperate need. (I’ve been doing it since the mid-eighties, when I was at school, around twenty-five times now…)

Thirty-six years on, the 40 Hour Famine is bigger than ever. Each year around 300,000 Australians take part. The funds raised every year by the 40 Hour Famine continue to support World Vision’s work tackling the causes of poverty, through both short-term solutions and long-term development projects.

This really does make a difference – I’ve met the child I sponsor in Peru, so I know how dramatically even the smallest amount of money can help people in developing countries. My profile page is here, if anyone wants to check it out 🙂

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