Right and Wrong in Pakistan

September 4, 2012

Globalization certainly raises the question of whether there is indeed a universal “right and wrong?” When the world was more national, less global, there was less interference by one nation in the internal affairs of another nation. Now, we find that reasons for intruding, for caring to influence change in the internal affairs of another distant country can be for a variety of reasons: concerns that those internal affairs could somehow affect the business interests (e.g., energy supply) of our distant country; concerns that those affairs could result in war which might spillover to affect many other countries; and, concerns that the internal behaviors are simply “immoral” or wrong, in the opinion of us outsiders. This is seen to mean that we have a moral obligation to stop those behaviors, even if we have no authority to do so, and even if they do not appear in any way to threaten our way of life in our distant country.

If there is universal right, and if we know what those right principles are, universally, for all, then we certainly will wish to impose those upon people who are behaving otherwise. It stands to reason, that is a good thing for all, provided we do our best to impose those in the most humane way.

On the one hand, most educated liberals of the world would say there are certain universal truths–in fact, most of the world’s major religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, as examples) would agree on many of them. The golden rule is one of them.
Is tolerance one of them? Is acceptance of the rights and freedom of others one of them?
Is the process of globalization going to force the beliefs of the powerful upon the less powerful? Will the less powerful have any ultimate alternatives other than to develop nuclear weapons or conduct terrorism, if, indeed, they believe their most sacred beliefs are not respected–and if they have been taught to believe that failure to believe as they do and adhere precisely to their beliefs is blasphemy against their God, as they know Him?
There are those of us who would say, tolerance is a universal truth, a universal right. That would mean that if someone wanted to burn the pages of my Bible in front of my Presbyterian church, because that person was an atheist and felt that there is no God, certainly no my God as Presbyterians see him, is not a good God or does not even exist. It would mean that unless he was creating a disturbance which inconvenienced others, I should walk right by on my way in, and on my way out, and never seek to disturb his rights. I wouldn’t like it, but he has his right to his beliefs.
It seems tolerance is not yet universally agreed as one of the great truths of mankind. There is too much fear for loss of the seemingly sacred nature of “my” personal rituals.
We are not yet ready, as a world, to believe that all our “Gods” are ultimately the same God. That it is only our rituals which differ, and these can well serve our needs for history and tradition and individuality. These rituals need not be the same. In fact, we can study, respect, and appreciate the rituals of others.
Another day, let’s talk about the rituals of certain religions–can they be allowed to retain all of them, even if they do not choose to threaten believers in other religions….? E.g., is my religion to be tolerated to punish those who do not obey its prime commandments in harsh ways, just as I see fit?

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