Shinji Nakaba (2012) - Hand-carved pearl
(via 3parts)Source: likeafieldmouse
One of the social issues I care most about is LGBT rights. The rights this community is denied, and the violence it faces is absolutely inconceivable to me. I think a huge part of the problem is that people do not think for themselves. A great deal of the population does not critically analyze different situations and form their own conclusions about things. They allow others to make up their “minds” for them. I believe reason has a monumental role in analyzing different situations, but we must also have a balance between reason and our emotions, or “gut instincts”. This being the case Kant’s Categorical Imperative seems like a very good way to get things on the right track, but in order to put the Categorical Imperative into use, one must start thinking for oneself. Kant’s “What is enlightenment?” is an excellent piece to motivate people to adopt a more accepting attitude towards concepts or ideas they may not fully understand or even agree with.
Kant believes that to be enlightened one must relieve oneself from a self-imposed bond on another. People have been brought up to believe that to think for oneself is dangerous and can lead to ruination, so one must let the professionals do the thinking for everyone. At some point though, and this was my own experience, there is a conflict between what one is told by the people in charge and what one believes. This is when one has the opportunity to start thinking for oneself, and this is when most people decide not to. Kant believes it is out of fear that people do not break away, “self-imposed is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another” (Kant). It is not reason that people lack, but the will power, and courage to use it. If people would only take that first leap, they would see there is nothing frightening about thinking for oneself.
As stated earlier, I am very interested in the advancement of LGBT rights. In trying to figure out why they are so unfairly denied all the rights non LGBT people enjoy I’ve noticed a great deal of the opposition comes from religion (there are other factors, obviously, but I wish to discuss only religion here). Most of the narrow-minded people I speak with that actively oppose LGBT advancement seem to trace back their intolerance to religion. Most people opposed to LGBT rights claim that their religion disapproves of the LGBT community and this is why they are against them. This is not a valid reason. Kant states, “laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a portion of mankind […] remains under lifelong tutelage, and why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians” (Kant). These people that hide behind their religion have not even thought about the issue themselves, they just bleat what the church has pounded into them without taking the time to see if what the church is telling them makes sense or is fair. Either it is too much work for these people to sit down and think about things themselves or they are afraid to go against what their authority figures have said. I am sure that if these people who have some problem with the LGBT community based on religion were to really think about what is happening to this community and understand how their quality of life is greatly affected by the decisions of others, they would not be so harsh in their thinking of them. It is the hold that their religious leaders have on them that make them treat those different from themselves so inhumanely.
Breaking away from authority figures and thinking for ourselves is step one. The second idea of Kant’s I believe would lead to a better community is the Categorical Imperative. His Categorical Imperative states that only what can be applied to everybody despite personal motives or desires should be made laws. I would like to think I am open-minded and accepting of different beliefs and practices, even if I don’t understand or agree with them (so long as no living creature is being harmed in any way). I respect other people’s right to believe whatever they want (even if I think it’s nonsense). I have no (insurmountable) problem accepting people’s misunderstanding, distrust, dislike, etc. of the LGBT community, what I have a major problem with is their going out and taking real action against LGBT folks. Voting against same sex marriage, using language meant to oppress or humiliate, physical violence, discrimination, denying them rights non- LGBT folks take for granted, denying them happiness, and an opportunity to fully and publically embrace who they are with out having to apologize, or be afraid of offending or being assaulted or whatever other disgustingness the LGBT folks have to put up with, all this I do not understand. It seems that the non-LGBT people that discriminate against the LGBT community are allowed to get away with their behavior because they are the majority. What if things were turned around, and all of a sudden LGBT were the majority, by the standards allowed right now, they could oppress, brutalize, and discriminate against all non-LGBT people.
If we were to apply the C.I. (Categorical Imperative) people would not be able to discriminate based on sexual preference or gender presentation because then everybody would be in danger of being discriminated against, it would all come down to people’s ideas of what certain words mean. A man, not dressed masculine enough, let’s say he wore a pink shirt, (so challenging some nut’s idea of what masculinity is) would be in danger of facing what LGBT folks face on a daily basis simply because he failed to comply with some individual’s standards of what it means to present oneself as male. That’s what all the hatred against LGBT comes down to. People don’t like what they do because they challenge their conceptions of how things should be. Adhering to Kant’s Categorical Imperative would allow people to keep their prejudices, but not allow them to openly, publically discriminate against a group of people just because they do not follow their, or their authority figures’ asinine rules.
I was raised in a very strict, very sheltering catholic home and did not learn about what homosexuality was until I entered middle school (had no conception of transsexual or queer until I was in college, I’m embarrassed to admit). Upon first learning about homosexuality I didn’t see anything wrong with it. It was presented to me in a very neutral fashion; as a result I was able to make up my own mind about how I felt about it. Later on I discover that my religion was against homosexuality. This unsettled me, because I saw nothing wrong in homosexuality but here was an establishment I had grown up seeing as “ultimate authority” telling me that my conclusion on the matter was wrong. This was when I started breaking away from Catholicism. As a young idealistic kid I hung on to my conclusion, leading to many unpleasant (to say the least) arguments with my parents, family and family friends, but it just felt wrong to accept something simply because some authority figure spit it out and my own feelings and thoughts told me it was wrong. I spent countless hours trying to figure out where the “wrongness” was in homosexuality and never even came close to finding anything that could be considered wrong. That was it for me. I had broken away, questioned authority, made my own conclusions on a matter and felt liberated. It was not easy; my parents and I still argue about the issue, and now we’ve added trans issues to the dispute, which they find even more reprehensible. The point being that to accept something simply because it is what someone in authority claims, the whole while not fully agreeing with it is detrimental to self-realization.
Thinking for oneself and applying the C.I. will not cure our societies’ diseases, but being more aware, and thinking more critically about what laws we pass and why and what behavior we allow, or don’t allow will hopefully help us to see when we are letting personal issues interfere with what is fair. One must at some point break away from authority and do one’s own thinking, in order to achieve any sort of self-realization, and following Kant’s C.I. will help to keep our more negative prejudices to ourselves, and allow others to also become self-actualized thus living in a better world, with happier people.
This handmade wooden proposal journal has a small compartment at the back to store your beloved’s engagement ring :)
If this cartoon makes you uncomfortable, it should. Egyptian cartoonist Doaa Eladl — never one to shy away from tough issues — is commenting on genital mutilation.
From the archives: An interview and profile of Eladl from The World’s Carol Hills.