Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Values, shmalues...

Sometimes, the values that helped a society triumph are the same that lead to its collapse. The first example that comes to my mind is the one of Greenland Norse around 980 A.D - when Greenland was still occupied by the Norwegians Vikings.

They managed to live and survive in the harsh north climate for about 400 years before they died. They had very close cultural, religious and economic ties with Norway which helped them build their society. They built churches to show they were also Christians, they raised cows as it was commonly done on the continent and they never wanted to communicate with the local Inuits because they were different. Though, another odd value adopted by the Greenland Norse was not to eat fish; it's still unknown why they decided so, but it was a bad idea.

Hence, all these values allowed them to rise as an important Norse society, culturally and economically. Nevertheless,when it was time to change, they were too stubborn to do so. The weather got colder at around 1300s (the little ice age), their connection with Norway slowed down (frozen maritime routes) and their food supplies ran low. But:

- they kept building churches, which is a bad allocation of their energy
- they kept trying to raise cows, whereas it was obvious the environment was not cow-friendly
- they never tried to make contact with the Inuits in order to learn some hunting techniques from them
- they never ate fish

Same strory for Easter Island; they kept building their statues, called moai, until they ran out of trees and other resources on the island - they were regarded as the embodiment of powerful living or former chiefs and important lineage status symbols. My point is that, we shouldn't stick to our values or habits so stubbornly, we should change and adapt them with time.

It is written that Muslims cannot eat pork because it is haraam; but it was originally forbidden to eat it because the pig carries a lot of diseases. Today, we can safely eat pork meat as it is clean. So why stick to this particular value? It has now no meaning at all. I'm not saying that the survival of the Muslim society relies on eating pork, but who knows, maybe one day it will.

The Vatican condemns the use of condoms, which is one of the many reasons HIV is spreading in Africa. Don't you think it's time for the Pope to drop the attitude (and the Prada robe) and evolve with the society? Doesn't he realize that the notion of "sex is for making babies only" is absolutely preposterous? Certain religious values and practices are really getting harmful today, and we need to acclimatize with the current environment.

There are billions of other examples, and I'm pretty sure you could think of one yourself. Bottom line is that we should adapt, change and question some of our values whether they are religious or cultural and become aware of how they affect our current lives. We can see that this is already happening in the West with a clear decline in religious beliefs and values - now let's expand that to other things too. We should have our own values based on actual facts and knowledge and we should be ready to adjust them when needed. We have to be open for change, because it is not by staying put that we will evolve.

1 comment:

  1. So well said. It's been far too long that gross human rights violations have taken place in the name of religion and culture. It's a weak and needless excuse. Although it's not perfect, if you try and appoach moral and ethical situations through a human rights framework, you at least attempt to be ethical, fair , just and act with integrity.