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Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Revolution of The Mind; The Way Forward for Grenada and Grenadians

From the moment Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus) appeared in the new world, Grenada was destined to be in the fold of Paul-ism (Christianity). However, not only has the adherents of this religion, maimed and killed all the island’s natives (Caribs and Arawaks), they killed and enslaved African people they had kidnapped and brought to the island. Indeed, from its inception, coming from its Judaic past, the legacy of this religion is written in bloodshed and mayhem. Immoral activities God contracted hit men to carry out, and/or, according to the book, physically descended and participated. Yet, the descendants of the African people who were so grossly abused maintains and continues to promote this religion. Today, Grenada describes its population as being ninety percent (90%) Paul-ites (Christians) and the remaining ten percent (10%) as practicing some other form of religion.
With that said, allow me to share my observation on the discussion that surrounds our nation's moral compass, while, at the same time, present what I believe is the best possible solution to our societal problems. We have been complaining that crimes have been and continue to damage our country’s image. Our country continues to be plagued with men killing each other. Our men continue to abuse, disrespect and/or killing women, and politicians (principalities in high places) committing all sorts of corruptions while in public offices. Child abuse continues to linger with us. Even the people we trust to police crimes constantly abuse their power and engage in gross wrongdoings themselves. This, and other societal ills the Grenada Conference of Churches and other religious bodies in the country, contend is as a result of the Grenadian people have abandoned God and Church, and the solution they say, is to revert to our past religious orthodoxy. We need God! But, is that so? Do we really need to revert to God and the Bible as we seek to create a better society? I think otherwise.
 In the backdrop of what is laid out above, I am contending that the moral problems that plague our society have its roots in the very religious foundation it has endorsed. In that, the country embraced a worldview that breads antagonism. This is not to say that there are not nonreligious factors that contribute to our moral shortcomings. However, it is embracing ideologies that are rooted in religious dogmas that largely contribute to societal breakdown.  I submit that domestic violence, which has plagued the Grenadian society and continues today, for instance, is informed by the Christian religious ideology that fundamentally promotes a male chauvinistic worldview. Child abuse, although not confined to just the religious world, has had and continues to have fertile ground behind the stained glasses. Furthermore, A study concerning religion and its effect on society, published in the Journal of Religion and society by Gregory S. Paul, has shown that areas that display high religious conviction have greater societal ills and crimes. 
Indeed, Grenada has embraced a worldview that is not only alien to them, as descendants of Africans, but one that promotes extremely narrow-mindedness; one that suffocates an individual’s ability to think, and breads gross ignorance. Thus, if the Grenada Conference of Churches is correct in that the Grenadian people are abandoning their religion and faith, then their call to regress back to a religious conservative worldview is a knee-jerk reaction to that issue, and not, in a real sense, expected to address the ethical problem they contends the country is facing.
I can certainly hear the grumbling.  Where would our morals come from if you do not accept God and the Church, you ask? I.e Christianity. Well, morality is not owned by any religion. It is shaped by society as it pursuits its best interest. Morals come not from an external supernatural being. An individual is in control of personifying his or her own actions, which can certainly have negative or positive effects on the social group she is a part of – humanity. You don’t need a God/gods or a religion to achieve this.  Grenadians’ lack of church going, which certainly does not mean an outright abandonment of their religion, as shown by the numbers above, did not and will not create a society of lawlessness, as the Conference of Churches wants us to believe. This trend instead, and despite having a long way to go, shaped a society that is more predisposed to hold itself accountable for its moral failures.It create whereby more and more people are not neglecting their moral obligation by not placing it upon the shoulders of an unproven supernatural being. Today, despite identifying as Christians, more Grenadians are less enthusiastic to view the world via a narrow dogmatic ideology. Thus, more Grenadian men, for example, are viewing woman as equals and not as lesser beings, created by God as helpmates and property. Showing them much more respect. More people are reporting domestic violence against women and vice versa. We are seeing an increase in our citizens breaking their silence on child abuse, and the list can go on.  
Thus, understanding this reality and its implications, I, in speaking to my Rastaferi brothers, in my forthcoming book, From Mythology to Reality: Moving Beyond Rastafari, argue for the adoption of a different mode of thought. Of course, this new mode of thought is not presented only to the adherents of Rastafari, and to the people who are looking to assent to this Pauline faith, but the book also asks that the nation of Grenada adopt this new way of thinking, as we move forward, as a nation, into creating a more humane and ethical society. However, what new mode of thought am I speaking off here?  Well, Grenadians, I will maintain, should not just abstain from going to church. In that, I am saying that Grenadians should not just divorce themselves from institutionalized religion. We should go farther. We need a revolution of the mind. Break the spell of religious dogmatism that has been imprinted into our minds by religious theologians.  In its place, develop a worldview that embeds the physical world and a system of thought or action that is concerned with the interests or ideas of people as its foci. One cannot, I believe, be inclusively humanistic if one hedges his or her worldview in religious dogmatism. One must emancipate his or herself.  Indeed, another aspect that the study mentioned above has shown is that secular societies have much lower rates of violence and other crimes. Therefore, my call is that we free ourselves from the clutches of religion and adopt a Secular Humanist worldview. As Tom Flynn, editor of the Free Enquiry magazine put it, “Secular Humanism is emancipation” (Flynn, p. 4: Free Inquiry – October/November 2010.Vol. 30 No. 6).  To him, it is, as he put it, emancipation from,
  • Divine scrutiny: “it is the ultimate release from “parental” control. What real parent’s scrutiny could be as intrusive as that of a deity who never sleeps, never looks away, and can never be deceived or misled?” ( Free Inquiry, p. 4)
  • A worldview contrary to our senses-and common senses:  “To my mind, the realization that existence is purely physical…. It frees me to cherish this life on its own terms. No longer must I devalue my existence as the eye-blink prologue to some boundless perpetuity where, if only by dint of its incalculably greater scale, true significance must lie.” ( Free Inquiry, p. 5)
  • From an often oppressive parochial community: “Beyond the demands to assent to doctrine and fill the collection plate, congregational life involved a larger web of social expectations.  We are “free to stop centering our lives in an insular community of the likeminded, free to anchor ourselves directly in the culture at its broadest and its most diverse, free to seek the services we desire from the-qualified providers without screening them through some hidebound denominational sieve. Instead of restricting ourselves to a parochial community’s straitened menu, to the extent our resources permit we may choose from everything an abundant society has to offer.” ( Free Inquiry, p. 5)  
  • From external command morality: “What secular humanism does mean is that we need not accept some arbitrary moral code unrooted in our own experience on the mere authority of, well, authority. Rather than freeing us from morality, secular humanism frees us to develop a truly relevant morality, one rooted in the real world and in the physical and social consequences of life as humans live it. Instead of accepting unverifiable assertions, we can come together with others to forge pragmatic values whose worth and value can be intersubjectively conformed.” (Free Inquiry, pp. 5-6) 
And so it should be to us also. For sure Secular Humanism embodies much more than just these four points presented here. However, the point is that by adopting a worldview that is informed by Secular Humanism we are emancipating ourselves from depending on unproven supernatural being/beings and instead depending on us – humanity – giving us an opportunity to bring real positive change to Grenada and Grenadians and the rest of the world.
As I conclude, I must say that looking at the Grenada I knew as a young “lord” verses the present, there are good societal things we indeed have lost. No doubt! Showing more respect for elders, for instance. However, for the Grenada Conference of Churches and other moral police to argue that our society has become worse, as a result, is misguided. Their reaction is base in the fact that they are losing their grip on the mind of the masses’; people are exiting the churches and looking elsewhere for realistic answers to their problems. Thus, I believe that freeing ourselves and truly moving away from dogmatic religious worldviews is the direction we should continue as we develop a society that fosters better and more humane relationships. Our education system should be secular; one that nourishes modes of thought that includes, not only the freedom to worship one’s God or gods, as our constitution guards, but it should also encourage and nourishes Free Thought and Skepticism. We must encourage and promote critical and rational thinking as rudimentary to our education process.  If this is done, Grenada will have a much better informed citizenry. We will certainly have the ability to be more objective and inclusive. We will possess the ability to understand what it is to be a member of the broader human family. We will understand and welcome the vast array of diversity that builds humanity and not discriminate based on a worldview informed by narrow closed-minded, inhuman religious ideologies. Emancipating ourselves from this cognitive prison and promoting a Secular Humanist worldview can certainly assist in alleviating the seemingly pervasive toxic interpersonal relationship that plagues Grenada and Grenadians. I submit that our police officers will indeed be more predisposed to exhibit coherent and rational thinking. Solving differences will be done on a more humanistic level that is informed by objective rational thought. This, of course, will not create a utopian society, which, based on human nature, I submit appears to be an unrealistic goal. That is not what I am calling for. However, adopting this humanistic mode of thought will certainly help us create the better ethical society Grenadians has been calling for, for so long and all along.

2 comments:

  1. Yes my fellow grenadian brother.. An educational system based on love of self and others, not just freedom of thought but freedom from religious minded traps. Absolute freedom from fear of being burned for an eternity. A system that eradicates the senseless notion that life gets better after one dies. A goal oriented school mandate. An education on the traansformation from youth to adulthood. spoonfed tips on how to develope and maintain a family. A little dose of conflict resolution. These are just 0.1% of the medicine we need in Grenada in order to become a society of progress and grotw.. Slowly we are dying from the epidemical, pandemical disease of religious mindedness.

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  2. Thanks for the comment. Indeed, when I chose to express myself as to what I think about the rigid religious ideology that hold such tight grip on our society, I was and still has been ridiculed. The ability for us to explore other prism through which we can see and help create a much world, since the religious prism has failed and continues to create strife, is often killed by religious enthusiasts. However, we cannot give up. We have to push for the 0.1% of the medicine needed.

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