Friday, April 24, 2009

The Crackpots and These Women


Held my tongue for as long as I could, decided, really, time to pen my thoughts down on the subject.

The AWARE saga is coming to a head and I think it's only a matter of time before it all blows up. So, here's my two cents worth before the caca hits the fan:

Firstly, for an organisation that claims to champion womens rights, you need to champion the rights of ALL women. Let's go through the fundamental ones, shall we?

1) All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
2) Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Dignity. People have a right to have it. To be condemned because your lifestyle is considered "dirty" or "wrong" reeks of indignity. Sadly, the moral "right" seems oblivious to the fact that in their withdrawing of support for the rights of gays and lesbians, they are robbing a minority group of the dignity that is their right, as it is a right to everyone else.

The whole debacle has brought up an age old struggle that pits the "christian right" with the rest of the world and as a christian, I should take the side of the christians. I am a Christian and I think that according to the tenets of the religion, homosexuality is a sin. (I've always been disturbed by that fact due to my socio-political leanings, but oh well...) I choose not to weigh in on that issue because I believe that there're a few "larger" rules and regulations that we have that stop us from doing so:

1) “Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
2) “Stop judging, so that you won't be judged, because the way that you judge others will be the way that you will be judged, and you will be evaluated by the standard with which you evaluate others."

Which may actually be quoted by others because it's the perfect comeback to christians when they feel that christians are being overbearing. And we tend to be. It's in our nature to try to "save" as many people as we can. It's the Great Commission. Problem is that the Great Commission never really told us to interfere. It's told us to spread Jesus' teachings and that's something I can truck with. But spreading teachings and saving people from sin are completely different things. We do have the authority to do the former but the latter is up to God. Why is it that we seem so quick to be ready to do the latter rather than the former? I think I have some idea but I'm not ready to get into that yet.

But that's the thing, we are that judgmental aren't we? And I think what the world sees us as that because the most vocal among us really do put out the most noise. Unfortunately, most of that noise is judgments on other people and how they're all going to hell. We're like that teacher who spends all their time criticizing students' faults and saying that they'd amount to nothing. No one ever liked that teacher.

How quickly we forget that christians were once condemned for what they believed in. How short sighted we are when we cry about the injustices heaped onto other christians in other countries because of their faith. How sad it is that we often are so quick to throw those first stones.

What's sad about the whole AWARE saga is that a religious few are trying to impose their religion on an issue that is rather cut and dried either way:

It's wrong in a religious context.
There's nothing within a secular context that says that it's wrong.

I am a Christian. That is what defines who I am and what I think. The world, however, is secular. It is separate from my faith and should remain so because people out in the world are from various cultures and faiths. AWARE is a secular organisation working within a secular society. And within a secular society, who you are, who you choose to be with, what you do, etc... should not have any bearing on your rights. (Come to think about it, it SHOULD be the same way within religious organisations as well...) Therein lies the problem with the fundamentalists taking over an organisation like AWARE. The values that they are preaching tend to be values that should be kept separate from secular society. These values should not cross over because there is a social contract that says that they shouldn't.

Otherwise, let's start the free-for-all. Let the new members of AWARE start casting the first stone and repeal the law that makes it OK for us to get divorces. Let's ban abortions and let's make adultery a capital offence shall we?



If christians are going to try to stop people from playing God, maybe they should start with themselves eh?

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

To the attic with ye?

Dollhouse and Whedon's Masochism.

I've been following Dollhouse for the whole of the first season. (Thanks BT!) It was my first Whedon televisual fix for a while and the first that I'm actually following "live" as it airs in the States. Years of following Buffy, Angel and Firefly sadly after the fact have converted me into a Whedonite. I've read about his rise and subsequent fall(out) with the Fox network, which made it all the more strange (for me) when I read that he was going to do another show with them.

I know the circumstances behind that as well, what with Eliza Dushku being greenlit to create a show and getting Whedon to helm it, it made sense. Go to the best you've worked with and get them to help to create a show for you. But for Whedon to return to a company that gutted his previous work? Ouch. One has to wonder about Whedon's proclivity to pain that allows him to keep returning over and over to the company that's really put him through the shredder.

So it was with little surprise or dismay (more accurately, EXPECTED dismay) that I read that Dollhouse may not see another season. It's pretty much par for the course for Fox, that seems insistent to really put out the crappiest shows in the movies and television and add it's own stamp to the stupidification of the idiot box. I saw it coming since the project was announced. I mourn (if the rumours turn out to be true) that television is losing another great (thought provoking, clever, well written) show. But I am not above saying I told you so either (especially to anyone who doesn't actually see or hear me say it...).


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Monday, April 06, 2009

Of Pay and Other Matters.

So. My pay got cut.

It was expected as the civil service cut back on it's payments to staff due to the economic recession. (I'm not afraid to use the word and let's call the spade a spade shall we?) It was not as bad as I thought it could have been but the impact is certainly felt. With two kids to put through nursery and a house renovation under way, it would certainly have been better to have more money than less. And I think that anytime there's a pay cut, it feels bad. (A pay revision however is always welcome...)

So anyway, my pay got cut...but I don't really mind.

As I mentioned before, it's nothing new and it's something that I've been anticipating for a while. As civil servants, our pay should move along with the economic trends that affect our nation. After all, as civil servants, we serve the nation. That's our lot and that's what we need to accept. The one thing that really spurs me on to feel this way is that the $xxx that we get less a month or the $xxxx less that we get through the year will after all go toward worthier causes, right? There are people who are a lot worse off than I and I would like to say that we got a pay cut so that we can help others in need? That others do not need to be laid off? That by forgoing that (relatively) little per month, someone else can put food on their family's table? Those are the thoughts that help me to placate my (obvious) disappointment over the cut.

There's been a lot of scrutiny of civil servant pay, and I think that a lot of the anger and the frustration is certainly justified. There is a certain line that would certainly have been crossed when one considers the fact that what some of us earn a month will pay for the living expenses of a family (or several) for a year. I for one would have loved to see Mr French Cooking school sacrifice his $45000 vacation to buy dinner for every single person in his constituency. In sounding out my own frustrations over those practices, I realised that I would be totally hypocritical if I cried out for the pay cuts of those above me and ended up hoping that my own pay wouldn't get hit.

So here I am. Smaller paycheck...non-hypocritically saying that it's a good thing we're doing.

And think about it: If we can cut the pay of civil servants by about $100 (at least) per month, with a total number of about 60000 civil servants (ballpark figure...) working at the moment. That adds up to about $6000000 a month in savings? $6 million dollars could do a lot of good for people. $6 million dollars a month could buy a lot of food for people who can't afford their three square meals. It could mean more subsidized health care. It could help to save jobs. There's potential there.

I just hope that my (imposed) sacrifice will mean good things for Singapore. Despite my cynicism, I still believe that we do have a duty to those among us who have had bad breaks. And I think that because we have chosen to serve the nation, we should take the lead in helping out.

So here I am, tightening the belt because it's all for the greater good. I just hope that it does, at the end of the day, mean something to someone who needs it. And not go into the pockets of some undeserving shmuck who already earns too much money.

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