The Balancing Act of Religion and Philosophy

In a recent news story written about a few words expressed by John Kerry while visiting Africa, controversy arose.

African Hall Addis Ababa

African Hall Addis Ababa

Like so many other high-profile people in the news, those words will be parsed and restated in ways suggesting anything that talking heads want to examine and claim.

During a talk to the U.S. embassy staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Secretary of State John Kerry remarked; This is a time here in Africa where there are a number of different cross-currents of modernity that are coming together to make things even more challenging. Some people believe that people ought to be able to only do what they say they ought to do, or to believe what they say they ought to believe, or live by their interpretation of something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago. That’s not the way I think most people want to live.”

I’m reminded of something I wrote about months ago which I believe applies here, too.

The philosophy of Bruce Lee as illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils.

  • Research your own experience. (Rely on knowledge you learn, not what someone else knows and you regurgitate)
  • Absorb what is useful. (Learn and examine the ideas of others, even those whom you feel vastly differ from your own. Incorporate the good and workable ideas)
  • Reject what is useless (When you find a flaw, reject the flaw but not everything contained therein. Life isn’t all about 100% one way or another)
  • Add what is essentially your own (Incorporate ideas of your own after the first 3 steps are understood. Make it better)

It may be considered blasphemy in some circles, but the idea that modern society should conduct itself along the morality as understood in the 15th century or earlier is ridiculous. Beheading, stoning or disfigurement for blasphemy, lust or theft may seem appropriate for some, but a modern society recognizes those concepts of social justice as antiquated and must be rejected. Killing infidels is still a practice for some but it has no place in modern society. Perhaps this is what John Kerry is actually referring to in his speech.

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