Friday, 13 December 2013

Stuck in Yesterday

Tiny irony: I took this screenshot last technically, I took it yesterday. That is the level I'm at here.
Plurk has been buzzing lately with conversations about the changes Linden Labs have been trying to make to the Terms of Services and, freshly, news about the Australian annulment of same-sex marriage. I know very, very little about the former issue, but I saw the second on the BBC, and right in the middle of the television screen was a placard held by who-knows-who dismissing gay marriage because it isn't accepted in the Bible.

How are these two issues connected? They both represent our attempts to make new rules and regulations for today's people, and we aren't finding it very easy. If anything the media says is to be believed, there are many other ways in which our law system is becoming out of date. The very foundations of our societies are formed by treaties and agreements signed over fifty years ago by people who thought we'd all be flying around on jetpacks now if they could imagine this time at all. 

Those treaties and agreements are intensely important, and whilst they do the job generally, they don't take into account the way we have changed. They don't take into account the Internet, nor the collaborative way in which it allows people to work and to share ownership. In an age of CCTV and Obama reading our emails, we need to redefine 'privacy' and what we are entitled to. In an age of school shootings and children on Prozac, we need to have a conversation about mental health and gun ownership. I could go on.

That people think they are exempt from the law, even when that law has been revisited recently, is obvious: Mark Duggan, slavery in Bristol, even the crisis in Syria are examples of that. These issues should, technically, have been covered by the Geneva Convention, as well as anti-racism initiatives and on-going investigations into police brutality and what it does to your brain to hold a gun in your hand. It's a huge job but we have to keep going back, to look at these problems, to look at the laws and the attitudes that govern them. We need to make sure that they are applicable and relevant to the people they are governing, and we need initiatives in place to spread awareness, understanding, and acceptance of responsibility. 

I am not so naive as to think that there will never be people who commit crimes, and I know that there are a million mitigating factors that come into play, but I don't see how we can be ready to deal with those maturely and sensitively if we are not sure of what, exactly, we have allowed and not allowed in the first place.

I admit, I am not a religious person, but I have grown up in a country whose laws come from the Bible, and I have respect for the Bible as an important and sacred-to-some text. The Bible encourages us to be responsible and to be conscientious - to think of others as well as ourselves, and to look at each other with love. When in doubt, I understand that it is one of many places people go to look for an answer, but I think it is very, very important to remember that those words were committed to paper centuries ago. They weren't given to us; they were given to the people that lived centuries and centuries ago. They were given to people that couldn't imagine the world being anything like the way it is in 2013. They couldn't imagine a jetpack to even begin to envision us flying around with them right now.

The rules we make have got to take into account the way we have changed as well as the ways that we haven't. Go back to Geneva, make our current leaders sign the treaties they weren't even alive to agree to the signing of in the fifties after we have updated them to talk about Guantanamo Bay and the Internet and the liminal space of an airport. 

This will take time, and I am sure that we will face teething problems. The trick, I think, is to be patient but determined. Keep going, keep pushing, keep being sympathetic to everyone, not just those that share your cause. Keep going keep going keep going.

We are not the same people we were twenty years ago, let alone fifty years ago, or a thousand years ago, or two thousand years ago. And we all deserve happiness, safety, honesty and love.

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