What are we really defending and why?

Libby Davies and the Israeli-Palestine debate.  Amid the controversy that has arisen between Davies and a lifetime of politics in one corner, and a 4 minute video in the other, I’d like to address a moral question that I often think of when listening to Middle Eastern politics.

Funnily enough, the motivation for writing this short piece came from another writer who bluntly juxtaposes the oxymoron of “an extremely left-wing, outspoken, lesbian woman” and a society where such a woman would not be tolerated for those very same reasons.

One of my favorite philosophers, John Locke, had three major teachings that I have always personally held close.  Nurture is the more fundamental value in why we are what we are.  Religious tolerance is indisputable.   And perhaps most importantly, a successful society needs rational and civil methodologies for conflict resolution.

So how does it relate?

Well, it’s obvious the world’s religions and cultures should live in harmony.  Unfortunately, we have great difficulty in doing so.  People are often dragged to one extreme or another because they feel they are only heard when they yell.  As much as the Vuvuzela horns at this year’s FIFA World Cup drive me insane, it is part of South Africa’s culture and should remain so.

But what I always struggle to rationalize are the antiquated societal laws that still exist in some parts of the world.  The ways of thinking that are explained by Locke’s teachings but simultaneously go against them.

Stonings for morally questionable acts are commonplace.  Education is horribly undervalued.  Freedom of thought is non-existent.  Basic Lockean tenets that have been elsewhere demonstrated to go hand-in-hand with religious and cultural beliefs are instead denied by brute force.   So what are people like Libby Davies really defending?

I find it very difficult to believe that if a Lockean culture of civil resolution and religious acceptance was nurtured in the Palestinian Territories; we would still be in the same situation we find ourselves in today.  The exact opposite is more likely – two societies living in peace, side by side.

So when I hear Davies blindly shout out demands for “justice”, I wonder what would happen if she got what she wanted.  Would we see a resounding advancement in the lives of inhabitants?  Or more international news stories of violence, repression and cruelty that regularly make most Westerners squirm.

Unfortunately, every country is plagued by stories of rape, murder and the like.  But without the fundamental Lockean-based value system we have here, we never would have gotten even this far.  And while nothing is quite like ‘home’, I believe there is a reason why so many people from around the world have chosen to immigrate to this fine country and others like it.

So again, when I hear of Middle East debate, I wonder if people like Libby would be better off spending their time sharing Locke’s lessons with the world instead of adding more fuel to a fire that is so obviously out of control.

There is no defence for some of the acts committed by both sides.  But when is the majority going to address the root causes instead of a hodgepodge of patchwork that has never been a real solution to begin with?

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