positive socio-religious engineering!

Andy Stone andy at darkfox.co.uk
Wed Jan 26 18:15:22 CST 2005

I'm relatively new to Ubuntu, so please pardon me if the views I express 
here are old and worn:

I came to Ubuntu for technical reasons, and have been very impressed on 
that level. It is my main desktop now. However, I've been more impressed 
with how Ubuntu and the community are really going for the big one - 
trying to bring folk together in a spirit of hope and co-operation. 
Startling if you think about it even in FOSS-world, yet so simply 
executed. I thank you all for the good vibe.

I am particularly interested in what's been happening on the religious 
front - the most sensitive of areas. I write this now because from a 
newbie's perspective, I think something good has come out of all the 
ridiculousness over the excellent Warty artwork. I'll explain via a 
slight digression:

In the Ottoman empire, religious diversity was celebrated. There was 
federal law, and another law per religion based upon its tenets. So in 
practice depending on your religion you were legally bound by a 
different set of rules to those of your neighbour. It is a contended 
view, but the main line is that this led to tolerance and freedom based 
on a celebration of differing beliefs.

Contrast this with modern-day in my country - UK. Social pressure to not 
highlight religious differences is now being backed up with legislation. 
Children must not wear religious clothing to schools. We are trying to 
make everyone seem the same, and hide those beliefs that are different 
from others. This is tangibly breeding fear and hatred. How bland, 
colourless and repressive.

In the forums I frequently notice signatures containing religious 
sentiment. I found myself at first bristling at this - as a pagan I 
rarely see my views represented, and to be told other peoples beliefs as 
though they were fact (Christ died for you, etc.) I saw as a personal 
attack. However, I remembered the Ottoman Empire and realised how 
totally, totally cool it is that here we express ourselves in that way 
and it only adds colour. It is very liberating. I feel that this is a 
change recently, and may in part be a positive reaction to the 
fear-based niggles of a minority regarding the afore-mentioned artwork.

It is amazing that we've reached this place. Ubuntu it seems to me is 
shining a light on a dull fetid world in many more ways than just 
technically. Where I live snowdrops have appeared - the first sign of 
the returning year. This seems fitting to me

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