Sunday 18 April 2021
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Culture, religion and Justice

If we were to put 100 humans on an island it would not be long before they would be forced to make rules so as to regulate how they lived in peace and harmony. Then they would be forced to provide sanctions to be applied if and when these rules were broken. In that way they would have laws. Since these laws would need to be enforced they would soon have some form of policing and judicial administration.
The question that would arise throughout all this would be whether or not any of this was just? Law and justice are not necessarily the same thing. The apartheid laws of South Africa had nothing to do with justice but were designed to ensure dominance of the group that had power. In this way the White South Africans were simply entrenching a culture that had been with man from earliest times. They also used religious text from the Bible. As previously pointed out, until the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the UN in 1948, the World never had any concepts of human rights, equality or justice. It was all about dominance, a culture that Donald Trump and right wing groups in Europe now seek to restore.
So our little group on the island would be similarly challenged, i.e., dominance enforced by laws or justice? Playing it out in our minds it is very easy to see that what would happen is that the views, wishes and opinions “of the majority” would prevail on what the laws should be. They would be largely driven by their ideas and preferences. These would be driven by their beliefs. These beliefs would be steeped in their culture and religion.
Indeed it is the case that most of our current body of laws have culture and religion as their source. As the dominant groups went around the world invading and conquering, they imposed their culture by way of laws. That is why, in this region, our common law is Roman-Dutch because the influence of the once all conquering Romans is still with us.
What we have found is that we have never been happy about these laws as, at best, they have gone from really bad to reasonably good today. The culturally/religiously driven apartheid laws once again spring to mind.
At a stroke, therefore, we see that culture and religion are somewhat dangerous sources of law. They are both steeped in the history in which they were formed. That history spans a time when man was very, very ignorant on so many fronts. He was living in a world that he had very little understanding of. He was riddled with ignorance, confusion and apprehension. He resolved this by largely using his imagination.
That is why the invading Whites believed in dominance. That is why many of our own people in this region believed that illness was caused by bad humans riding around naked on the backs of hyenas at night. We would even kill a twin baby at birth. We would kill a baby whose top teeth appeared first. There is a long list of bad culture. In the West women were denied the vote. In the East “child brides” is still a huge problem. In Africa female genital mutilation is still a terrible problem. In South Africa we have many youths dying on account of “rite of passage” rituals conducted in the hills involving mutilation of the penises. Sixty years after man put men on the moon we still have these barbaric practices. We have them because of culture and religious beliefs.
On social media we see so many posts in which people take refuge in the statement “but this is against our culture … against the Bible … etc.”. It is why we cannot be accepting of gays and lesbians as equals. Culture and religion forbid it.
Now please clear your mind and think … think about the past. You will realise that there must have been a time when there was no culture or religion, just as there were no cars or trains. Then, just as man devised, formulated, invented, cooked up, made, built … everything you now see that was not there before, he did the same as regards culture and religion. It is estimated that the World now has 4,300 religions. One of these in the Pacific islands, contends that Bill Clinton is a god. All this confirms that religion is a made up, like all the other man made things we have, as these 4,300 religions and the Bill Clinton believers cannot all be right. There are innumerable cultures. They also cannot all be right.
You do not need to give up your culture or religion. What you need to do is to review these as they were formulated at a time when humans were far less informed than you are. So just as cars, watches, telephones, shoes … are continually improved, as man advances, your culture and religion can also be improved so as to serve justice more perfectly.
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph”. Haile Selassie.

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