Category Archives: Informative

The ShortReport – Snowden Update

shortreport

Announcement: I’ve almost hit 1000 unique visitors guys, woohoo! To celebrate, I’m launching a new feature called The Short Report! The idea is I give you a quick breakdown on what’s happening on a particular issue, linking to articles as I go. This way you can read a short summary if you’re pressed for time,  or read further in depth analysis and commentary by following the links provided. I’m going to try and keep them around 300-600 words. Please let me know any suggestions/criticisms. 

NSA Prism illustration

Just a quick update for you all on the Snowden and mass surveillance scandal – a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Five Eyes, a network of major western powers who work in tandem to spy on peoples private communications. Some of these countries are now “complaining” about the NSA’s programs. Edward Snowden has revealed further details about Australia’s links to secret US Spying program,  identifying a number of operations such as one dubbed “ThinThread”.

Mr Snowden also said that the “Five Eyes” partnership is organised so that authorities in each country can “insulate their political leaders from the backlash” when it became public “how grievously they’re violating global privacy”.

Rather unsurprisingly, Cuba’s Raul Castro has criticized the U.S and backs allies on Snowden’s bid for asylum, accusing the United States of employing a “philosophy of domination.

These actions demonstrate we live in a world in which the powerful feel they can violate international law, violate the national sovereignty of other states and trample on the rights of citizens.

The U.S. responded to these Latin American countries with hostility, suggesting they will use trade sanctions to “to send a very clear message that we won’t put up with this kind of behaviour.”

The US claims that these countries have undermined “the importance of trust.”

Snowden has also revealed how the GCHQ in Britain Soaks up mass Internet data. The Tempora system is the signal intelligence community’s first “full-take Internet buffer,” according to the whistle blower.

It snarfs everything, in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit…if it routes through the UK, we get it.

He also accused Germany’s federal intelligence agency, the BND of working with the NSA to collect signals intelligence.

Further leaks from Snowden have revealed Brazil has been victim of cyber espionage by the NSA. Brazil has asked US to explain this internet surveillance, saying they received the reports from Snowden “with deep concern.

Brazil appears on the charts of the American agency (National Security Agency, or NSA) as a prime target for the espionage of phone calls and other data, alongside nations like China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan.

If that has happened, these companies broke Brazilian law and acted against our Constitution, which safeguards the right to privacy.

It seems that US attempts to block Edward Snowden are ‘bolstering’ case for asylum, and in fact giving the whistle blower stronger allies. Evo Morales stated that the forced plane-grounding debacle will never be forgotten in South America.

The issue however, is one of a lack of safety for Snowden if sent back to the US. For instance, a lack of transparency means tainted justice for Bradley Manning, and many fear a similar fate for Snowden if he is extradited. Daniel Ellsberg, who was charged under the espionage act in 1971, suggested Snowden was right to run, for:

He would almost certainly be confined in total isolation, even longer than the more than eight months Manning suffered during his three years of imprisonment before his trial began.

One lesson of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden’s leaks is simple: secrecy corrupts, just as power corrupts.

After two years of preparation the US-EU free trade talks are beginning amid this spying row. However, more leaked information is showing that the key European players in these discussions are just as guilty as the US when it comes to unlawful surveillance.

In the meantime, things are still getting worse in the US. In Secret, a court vastly broadened the powers of the N.S.A. — judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine, and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, officials have said.

Best Blogging Practice

So just a little back story to this article. I wrote this for a charity I’m volunteering for called Giving What We Can. I recommend you guys check out their website and what they do. They basically try and get people to donate a certain amount of their income to charities that give you “the most for your money.” By this I mean, they use charity rankings like GiveWell to see which charities save the most lives for the money you donate. Watch the video below for more info:

For instance, you can save a lot of lives investing in clean water and general hygiene, and it’s very cost effective to do so, in comparison to lets say, investing in obscure Human Rights charities, or Animal Protection charities. While the latter two deal with some very important issue’s, it’s not as cost effective when it comes to saving human lives.

So while I’ve digressed a bit, here’s the article I wrote, about what I think is some good advice for bloggers!

BEST BLOGGING PRACTICE
By Suhail Patel

 

Blogging has become a prevailing force in the spreading of ideas. With the permeation of the internet and the revolution in communication it has instigated, we often find ourselves sharing our thoughts and idea’s ever more frequently through this prevailing medium.

So the issue arises, what to do with this new found voice and our ability to so now easily share our thoughts? We have this wonderful ability to share what we think and how we feel about the problems humanity face, and the things we think are important in life.

How can we best utilise this new found freedom?

The humble blog, short for “Weblog”, has seen an explosion in popularity since its original conception. The process of starting your own blog has been made significantly easier for those not particularly web savvy.

But with this surge in popularity, it has become increasingly difficult to have your voice heard amongst the swelling crowd of bloggers.

So here are a few do’s and don’ts, some best blogging practice for those of you who don’t want to drown in an ocean of voices:

1. Engage with other blogs and your own readers- Don’t be afraid to say your opinion. Not everyone’s views are going to coincide with yours, and equally, you will not always be right about something, no matter how much you may try or think you are. Open to the door to conversation; don’t be afraid to spark debate. You ideally want to spur knowledgeable discourse and not an argument, as both you and your reader learn from keeping an open mind and discussing issue’s rationally.

2. Keep the material fresh and exciting – Be a human being – blogs do not tend to be for investigative journalism, but still use facts and quotes when necessary to back up your point. Blogs are considered to be a more informal means of sharing your idea’s, compared to a reputable newspaper or academic essay. For instance, you might want to share interesting things you might of read, watched or have heard happen to people. Try to grip your reader with a human element, but remember that statistics and facts can also be just as powerful.

3. Give people a reason to return – You can link topics together in features, where you have a recurring theme. Ask questions to your readers, perhaps even run competitions with silly prizes. The idea is to give your reader an incentive to subscribe to your blog and thereby your thoughts and opinions. You can do this in a lot of ways, remember to be creative. You are your own person and there is ultimately something unique and special about you, don’t try to follow or copy other bloggers style. You can bring your own original perspective to issues. Humans tend to be curious creatures, so the more unique, well thought out and insightful your ideas, the more likely people are to take interest.

The Ascent of Man, The Cosmos and modern Television

A short post from me today. Just an update on what I’ve been up to, and a reason for the lack of posts recently.

Over these last few days I have taken a very insightful and enlightening journey. I was watching Charlie Brookers Screeenwipe Thursday evening I think, when something caught my interest from the fast paced barrage of joke after joke spewing from the screen. The episode in question was exploring the effect television has on society. Unsurprisingly, Brooker had some very interesting points to make, namely, that television, by and large leads to alienation, despair and fear – the message delivered with his usual mix of cutting wit and frightening accuracy. However, he notes there are exceptions to this rule, and gives the example of one show in particular.

The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski

For the uninitiated, Brooker very eloquently compares watching the documentary to “taking a warm bath in university to juice”. And I’m sure most will concede, it is very hard to not feel a sense of wonder and awe when listening to Brownowski speak of the history of mankind, its journey through the ages, an epic voyage that spans across millennia. From mere humble beginnings, scrapings upon once bare lifeless stone, humanity has come a great way indeed. And while I have covered anthropological issue’s before in this blog, nothing can compare the pure breadth and articulation to which Bronowski describes the processes that have shaped modern man. He turns history, science and mathematics into poetry, and it is of no surprise then, that I have been unable to tear myself away from the series of essays since I began watching.

Watch below the whole thing, for free, using the embedded player below:


Similarly, if you enjoy this series, I would recommend you watch Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”, first aired in the US over 30 years ago (That’s 1980, for the lazy or mathematically challenged). 


The Cosmos” by Carl Sagan

Another prominent scholar from the time, Carl Sagan speaks with a passion and understanding that penetrates the heart and mind equally. There are few in this world who can speak so well about such topics, and ignite such passion within the listener for Astronomy and the Physical Sciences. An inquisitor by nature, a poet at heart, Carl Sagan is very widely known for his essays on the nature of the Cosmos. Recommended viewing for anyone interested in the story of creation, our inevitable demise, and the universe in its entirety. The persistence of memory in particular, is an episode I have seen countless times, and has stuck with me. I consider this series a wonderful bed time story for the budding intellectual. Unlike Bronowski, Sagan is a resolute optimistic, and the most wonderful idealist, but also a very stringent realist at the same time. His idea’s profound, and his legacy everlasting. 

Again, you can watch it all for free, using the link to YouTube below (apologies it would not let me embed the video):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHb-Sn40cSk&list=PL8AB00392CBEDD473

The Future of Television
Despite their age, the quality and insight of both these series has suffered little. I find this strange, considering the great deal of time that has accrued since their original inception and creation. The plethora of scientific revelations that humanity has come to discover since then, have undoubtedly made the shows obsolete in terms of their accuracy.  Yet their is some intangible value that still remains, and is hard to find nowadays in modern incarnations of such ground breaking documentaries. It seems in our quest to simplify, in our desire to make television more accessible and popular, we forgot about the very thinkers that forged and crafted such idea’s, through the process of silent and solitary diligence.

Brooker was right when he claimed we need  more academics on television, and fewer celebrities. The  leisurely journey of learning and discovery that both these men take us on, bear testament to how thoughts are everlasting, and that wisdom can span over ages. 

If you haven’t already, watch these two documentaries, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Till next time friends.

Peace and Love

x

Amnesty International and Human Rights

So this Friday (or tomorrow, depending if I finish this today or not) I have an interview at Amnesty International. The position for a Volunteer Internal Communications Adviser  and understandably so, I am very nervous along with excited at the prospect of working for the world renowned non-government organization. 

Hence I thought in light of he impending interview, and my need to prepare, perhaps it best I write a post pertaining to the history of the organization, along with some useful information regarding Human Rights, and some of the work Amnesty does. Also to finish with, I’m going to give some pro tips for job interviews I found on the intertubes.

Let the good times roll.


It all started with one man and a vision…

“Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a story from somewhere of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government…The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust could be united into common action, something effective could be done.”

The tale of two Portuguese men and a toast to liberty…
Peter Benenson – the man who started Amnesty International firmly believed that collectively we can instigate change in this world. One autumn day over half a century ago, Peter happened to come across an article whilst traversing the London Underground. The story in question was of 2 Portuguese  students from the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. The two men had been unjustly detained for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. “Having drunk a toast to liberty” was an arrestable offence at the time, and in the Spring of 1961, both were sentenced to seven years in prison for this supposed crime. 

Benenson was not a man to stand idly by upon hearing such harrowing news. Rather than succumb to idleness in the face of such injustice, he chose to express his views and garner public support for their freedom. And it was here that Amnesty International was started, instigated by the writing of one very important article. One we might attribute to a categorical change in the world and how we view Human Rights. “The Forgotten Prisoner”, published in “The Observer” on 26th May 1961 marked this change. The article also launched “The Appeal for Amnesty”, calling for united “common action” to free the unjustly detained Portuguese men. 

This marked the birth of an idea – together we are strong, together we can cause monumental change in the world. Benenson’s appeal for amnesty on the 28th of May 1961, became the starting date, but since then Amnesty International has matured, pervading much of the world to help mitigate human rights abuses far and wide. The primary objective of the organisation remains the same,  which is to “to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated,” but much of how this has accomplished has changed. The prevalence of the internet has dramatically altered the manner in which we communicate idea’s, and thereby a great deal of Amnesty’s public awareness campaigns, petitions, donations and the like, are accomplished through this prevailing medium. 

Amnesty International and the work they do…


There are 6 key area’s in which Amnesty International attempts to deal with using the donations and efforts of their 3 million members worldwide. These are outlined below:


-1-
Women’s, children’s, minorities’ and indigenous rights
There is an estimated 5,000 minority groups in the world, and more than 200 countries and territories have significant ethnic, religious or linguistic minority groups. About 900 million people belong to groups that experience disadvantage as a result of their identity, with 359 million facing restrictions on their right to practise their
religion. Minorities are among the most marginalized communities in many societies. In wealthy countries as well as in the least developed regions, they are often excluded from participation in socio-economic life, and experience long-term poverty. People from minority groups rarely have access to political power to influence policies, or a government that is accountable to them. Furthermore, they frequently encounter obstacles to manifesting their minority identity, such as not being able to speak their own language freely, profess their religion, or enjoy traditional cultural practices. Last but not least, minorities are the habitual victims of conflict, facing violence, ethnic or religious persecution, and in the extreme case, genocide.

-2-
Ending torture
Torture is the practice or act of deliberately inflicting severe physical pain and possibly injury on a person, though psychological and animal torture also exist…Reasons for torture can include punishment, revenge, political re-education, deterrence, interrogation or coercion of the victim or a third party, or simply the sadistic gratification of those carrying out or observing the…[Torture] is considered to be a violation of human rights, and is declared to be unacceptable by Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the Third Geneva Convention and Fourth Geneva Convention officially agree not to torture prisoners in armed conflicts. Torture is also prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which has been ratified by 147 countries.

Despite these international conventions, organizations that monitor abuses of human rights report widespread use condoned by states in many regions of the world. Amnesty International estimates that at least 81 world governments currently practice torture, some of them openly.

-3-
Abolition of the death penalty
The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice.
It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner.

-4-
Rights of refugees
A refugee is a person who has fled from their own country due to human rights abuses they have suffered there because of who they are or what they believe in, and whose own government cannot or will not protect them. As a result, they have been forced to seek international protection. Refugee rights include:
1. Protection from being forcibly returned to a country where they would be at risk of persecution.
2. Protection from discrimination
3. Protection from penalties for illegal entry
4. The right to work, housing and education
5. The right to freedom of movement
6. The right to identity and travel documents
-5-
Rights of prisoners of conscience
A prisoner of conscience was defined by Benenson as:
“Any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing (in any form of words or symbols) any opinion which he honestly holds and which does not advocate or condone personal violence. We also exclude those people who have conspired with a foreign government to overthrow their own.”

Most often associated with the human rights organisation Amnesty International, Benenson’s article was instrumental in its foundation, the term can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, or political views. It also refers to those who have been imprisoned and/or persecuted for the non-violent expression of their conscientiously held beliefs.

-6-
Protection of human dignity
Everyone wants their dignity respected and protected. We understand this concept intuitively. But what does dignity mean for law and human rights? In the UK, dignity is an emerging legal concept, an adjunct to human rights, which is used to protect people’s humanity and identity. As such, it sits in the wider human rights landscape of the European convention on human rights (ECHR) brought into UK law through the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998.
Protecting and defining dignity through human rights law is not always a straightforward business, especially because it often raises, in the words of the European court of human rights, a question of civilisation. Every breach of human dignity not only affects the individual victim, but also society as a whole, by raising the question of how we choose to live (and die) and relate to each other. It thereby calls into question the state’s role in protecting our dignity. 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. The full text is published by the United Nations on its website.
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

It consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols. In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights; and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law.

Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights

Overall Amnesty International have been a presiding force in the enforcement of Human Rights worldwide, and cover a broad range of abuses. I would recommend you do your own reading into the UDHR and the organization, and perhaps think about volunteering or becoming a member. 

All of us at some point in our lives have been made to feel small, have been powerless to help ourselves – as long as there are people being oppressed, there will always be people trying to win back and uphold their unalienable rights. Keep on fightin’ yo!!


So now for some pro Interview Tips: 
So I’m not gonna take credit for these tips…I found them on reddit. But very useful information nonetheless, and worth a read, even if you are fortunate enough to have a job. 
And to those of us who arnt fortunate enough to have employment, good luck with the job hunt, I hope these tips prove useful.
1. Answer their questions. Lots of people will start answering the question but never really finish because they go off on a tangent halfway through. It’s frustrating as an interviewer to have to ask someone to get back on point, but it’s also a little embarrassing for the candidate and it can throw you off your rhythm. I want to know the information because it’s important. It also shows you listened to what was being asked of you and you delivered what was required.
2. At the end of the interview, ask if they have any concerns about your resume, your interview answers or your application in general. It’s a great way to see if there is anything they perhaps misunderstood or you didn’t explain well enough. I’ve asked this in every interview and in all but one it’s given me some immediate feedback and the ability to allay any concerns they might have. For example, I once had someone say I interviewed great but they were concerned I lived too far away, something that didn’t come up in the interview. I was able to then say I would be relocating.
3. Do interview prep before you go. You should be able to predict most of the questions, but just writing down what your strengths are and thinking about them will increase your confidence. Make notes on the company and role from the job description; how does that match up with your skills and experience? This crossover is important because it’s usually why they will hire you.
4. Take a notepad, for example the one you used for your interview notes. Make sure you ask if it’s okay that you have your notes out, or if you can take notes during the interview. You won’t always be able to do this because of a strict NDA, but that’s why you ask. Good things to write down include the person’s name since it can be easy to forget, especially if more than one person is interviewing you.
5. Ask what the next steps are and when you might be hearing from them. Use your instincts when it comes to follow up. If you interviewed at retail and it went well, check in with the manager in a week and let them know you enjoyed your interview and you’ll be available to start very soon if they pick you. But if you interview at a large company that specifically doesn’t take phone calls then don’t harass them. If I’m in HR you email me asking when you will hear, chances are I’m chasing the hiring manager for an answer too.
6. Do not be scared of failure. If you perform poorly, you’ll know it straight away and my best advice is just to take the rest of the day off and forget it. Then when you’re feeling better try to figure out why it went poorly; bad preparation etc. I find a big one is the stress of getting somewhere new, where to park, who to ask for when I get there etc. Then work on these for the next interview.
If you did well and didn’t get it, there was probably someone better. Don’t take it personally. 
And always look for an occupation that enthuses you – do what you love and you’ll have a great deal more satisfaction in life (or so I’m told). 
I hope this post proved to be insightful friends, till next time…

The concept of Moral Progress

So I saw a very interesting TED talk (thanks for that Freddie Collins), and considering ethics is the only module at university I actually enjoyed and tried to take part in, I thought I might have something to contribute to the discussion.

First off, watch the talk by Sam Morris, who is a neuroscientist and author of a New York Times best-seller:


Early in the talk Sam introduces this concept of “Moral Landscapes”. This is a frequently used term, one also used by a Peter Singer, a prominent ethicists and one of The Times 100 most influential people in the world. Here’s a video below outlining some of his views:


So now I take it you’ve watched these video’s, its time for us to begin the discussion  What do we mean by the concept of moral progress?

We live in a world of good and bad, light and dark, the enlightened and the barbaric. Or so it seems at least, we can broadly categorise moral agents and their actions within these two different groups.

Yet the world we live in also has varying definitions of what is considered good and bad. Social behaviour is something that is evolved, and hence we find across the ages and different cultures, there tends to be very differing moral premises, thereby altering the conclusions we draw from our social interactions.

Let me put it like this – morality is fickle. Like the great statues of Ozymandias, the sands of time will inevitably destroy all old ways of thinking.  Morality is ever changing in the collaborative eyes of society. Throughout history there have been both seismic “shocks” to our perceived view of what is good, and what is morally bad, influenced by exogenous as well as endogenous factors. Almost always however, progression of morality, or what we consider to be progression, has been shaped by the profound need of humanity to survive and adapt to its environment. Increasingly, reciprocity has become more prevalent in our globalised world, along with empathy and non-violence for these very reasons. It makes sense to promote nuclear disarmament for instance, when you could potentially be eradicated yourself in the event of international thermo-nuclear war.

On the topic of religion and morality – I find it no coincidence that with the birth of organized religion came an explosion in human population. While I concede that there are a great many socioeconomic factors that contributed to the relative success of the human species (including are industrialization, education, marriage, social status, family structure, health care and nutritional status), it is religion that has been integral to the progress in morality that we have today. I think for us to live in a cohesive and functioning society we required religion.  Sam states that “most moral talk is viewed through religion…[and] this is why we spend our time talking about gay marriage…and not genocide, or nuclear proliferation, or poverty or any other huge consequentialist issue.

Sam, along with Peter and other prominent ethicists of the 20th century, have shied away from religion. It seems we now live in a secular society, particularly more so in the west, which separates the laws of the state from the religious duties of church. However, as Sam notes, many still view moral questions through the perspective of religion. Is this a hindrance to moral progress? Does this cause backwardness?





So these are two images that stuck with me after Sam’s TED talk. The second in particular, is quite a poignant image in itself. The disparity in our ways of thinking are quite shocking when juxtaposed like this. On the one hand, in the west where we are free, where we have the utmost liberties and freedom, unburdened by the shackles of religious obligation to bronze age texts – we still have the “wrong” answers to questions of morality. Is this the kind of world we want our children growing up in? Not only that, but if you watch TV, read the news, media, film – anything these days that is produced for mass consumption, you get a sense that humanity has really taken a turn for the worse even in the supposed civilised world. Greed, self interest, lust – these qualities that were once considered morally “bad”, are now virtuous, are now necessary for a person to succeed in life. Yet Singer believes we ought to think differently, we ought to

In a society like America… bring up our children, both for their own good and for those of others, to know that others are in much greater need, and to be aware of the possibility of helping them, if unnecessary spending is reduced. They should also learn to think critically about the forces that lead to high levels of consumption, and to be aware of the environmental costs of this way of living.

However, despite this we can still rest easy knowing life in the west is comparatively easy when compared to that in Islamic or more conservative nation. Here the welfare of the individual is also dramatically compromised by adhering to a strict ideology, maintaining past beliefs and customs that we can consider to be outdated. We do not need to worry about eating pork any more because of religious duty or infectious disease. But we should still refrain from eating pork (and meat in general), because the resources that are used to produce it are unjustifiable with such rampant world poverty. The individual does not have the liberty to conceive and reason their own consequentialist conclusions like this however. They are not given the freedoms in which to figure out what is good, and what is bad given their moral premises. Does this mean that morality is subjective? Sam believes there can be moral truth. He gives the example of how in Chess, sometimes sacrificing the Queen is good a move, but generally speaking, it is always best to keep the Queen alive. Hence, it is always wrong to lie, but sometimes there can be exceptions to this rule. 

But as stated before, without religion of course, we would not have the moral progress that we have now. Reciprocal relations are integral to any civilised society, and religion provided stepping stones upon which our current moral topography is based. Through a slow process of miniscule changes, almost like the movement of tectonic plates, coupled with these tremendous “seismic” shocks in our concepts of basic human rights and individual liberties, we now have a very different moral landscape to lets say, 2000 years ago, and the birth of christianity. One that has a great deal many less peaks and troughs – we are more equal than ever it seems.

We can also use another Singer example to illustrate how our thinking has evolved, with the following moral premises;

If it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.
Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad.

It was religion that originally taught us the virtues of altruism, and promised us intangible rewards upon death, or even during life for exhibiting such qualities. However, with Singers reasoning, any individual can conclude that we are obliged to help those suffering,   for we can do so without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant. Yet religion also teaches us things that are just no longer applicable. The “moral exception” becomes the new rule of law, with enough time and frequency. We know that this is the nature of good and bad. What is good today, is bad tomorrow, and vice versa. Several hundred years ago to defame the king would be blasphemy, and your head would be chopped off as punishment. Nowadays we consider it good to question those in power. This change accrued out of necessity. Time and pressure have a way of changing even the most seemingly unwavering beliefs and customs. (Hence why I find this topography analogy to be very befitting when talking about changes in moral thinking.)

Similarly religion also changes, it adapts with morality as well. Sam’s example of demi-gods – new popes have saw fit to progress the Catholic religion as its code of ethics became less popular and applicable to people. 


And while we frequently see on the news, the hate filled and backward few spewing their (subjectively at least) ignorant views – there is still progression. Even in religion – the moderate majorities views coincide with the secularist progressive. It seems while some of us may be inherently good at “moral thinking”, on the whole, moral progress is a collective movement of societies views, of our movement along these moral topographies. 

What are my views then? A quote from Einstein below sums it up quite nicely I think –

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons close to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all humanity and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


I think, put very simply, what the world needs is love, love sweet love – and a damn lot of it.