Thursday, April 21, 2011

Taking offence

My wife recently put a post on facebook that included a quote from a Tim Minchin song that refers to pope Ratzinger using some swear words. Some people took offence so she took the post down.

I have posted the following on her wall, in the hope that it makes people think a little more before trying to crush free speech.
Hazel recently put a post up about the pope that included a few swear words from a song by Tim Minchin. Some people got a bit upset so she, very generously, deleted it. In a country that has free speech at it's heart, she didn't have to do this.

I had a response to these people that I didn't have time to send before the post's removal. I still think it is worth saying, so here it is:

If you read the lyrics of the Tim Minchin song in question, you will find that it is a rant, by Tim Minchin, against Ratzinger himself, for not turning priests accused of paedophillia over to the authorities, as any other responsible institution would have done. Instead, he swept it under the carpet and moved priests to different parishes.

If anyone is not offended by that, but, at the same time, offended by a few swear words, then they need to think seriously about their priorities.

Tim Minchin himself has said he would march shoulder to shoulder with people for their right to hold sacred anything they want, but don't ever tell anyone else what they must hold sacred.
I hope that next time they think before they take offence so easily.

Monday, April 18, 2011

To measure love.

How do you measure love? I mean, really, how do you weigh it? Surely not in kilograms, or lb, or miles per hour, or kiloNewtons or mass x the speed of light squared.

Yet love is real. It is physical. True love, at least, exists as a real physical thing. Our minds can become obsessed with it, our bodies can yearn for it as much as it might yearn for chocolate, coffee, alcohol or even cocaine. Love is not some ethereal, metaphysical concept. It is absolutely real. Our love for another human being can move us to do amazing, and sometimes dreadful things. I am not judging which things are amazing and which are dreadful, but the things people do for, and in the name of love, are real.

So, given it's reality, how do we measure it? What instruments could we possibly use? What data would we look at? What are the error bars? What's the p-value?

Well, of course, we wouldn't use some instrument, some vial, some computer. But yet, it is real. So, again, how do we measure it? In what possible way can we say we love someone?

If you love someone who sees life the same way you do, then that's easy. It's a "no-brainer", everything is "hunky-dory" it's "a-ok". But how can you really say that you love that person? That is difficult to measure. Loving someone with the same values, the same principles, who looks at life in the same way, is easy. To love, within your own boundaries, is but a small step.

To love someone with different values; with a different outlook on life; who holds sacred things, which previously, perhaps, you did not; Who does not hold sacred the things that maybe you do. That is not easy. That is difficult. That involves change. Not just changes on the surface like, I don't know, changing your hairstyle, or the clothes you wear, or the type of food you like.

I mean real change. Change that actually matters. Change in your principles; Change in how you view the world; change in what you hold precious; change in how you go about this thing we call life.

They, of course, change too. But when they do, when they change their outlook on life in response to you, and when you both discover new things, new principles. That is real love. That is dedication. That is what "laying down your life for someone" really means.

And that?! That is how you measure love. Change. The measure of love is change. How much you change to become someone new; To become someone different. I won't say better, that is subjective. A fuller, richer person perhaps. A more interesting person, certainly! but a different person than the person you once were. You can still look back and see life through the eyes of that person you were, but now you have this new perspective. Now, you see the world from two different viewpoints.

And what does viewing the world from two different positions give you? Perspective. You see the world in 3D. And the further apart the two positions were to start with, the better the sense of depth. The better the perspective.

That is how you measure love!