A retrospective: John Locke

John Locke was a philosopher and physician who was born in Somerset, England in the 17th century, and is credited as the Father of Political Liberalism, and is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in the Age of Enlightenment. He was a strong advocate for the scientific revolution, where the scientific method evolved, and he was a medical researcher, who was concerned with the evidence being gathered empirically. As well as being a researcher in the sciences, he was also a political critique and believed that humans have three basic rights; life, liberty and estate, and he was a keen advocate for the separation of the church and the state; secularism, and heavily influenced the United States of America’s founding documents, especially the first amendment, and the Declaration of Independence.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

In 1689 he published his book, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which became an instant hit amongst enlightenment thinkers, where he studied that understanding the human consciousness, and knowledge, including moral knowledge, comes from sensory experiences. One of his greatest admirers was Voltaire, who was heavily influenced by his political and ethical philosophy, as well as Sir Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton, and just like Thomas Jefferson claimed, Voltaire believed them to be the three most important thinkers in history.

“All mankind… being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” – John Locke

Locke’s political theory cantered around reason and tolerance, and he claimed that no leader, or monarch had a divine right to rule, and should be removed from power if they failed in their duties, and advocated revolution if the need arose, and scholars claim his ideas had a profound influence on America’s decision of independence. The term liberalism’s origins come from the Latin word Liber, which means free, but it became a very popular philosophy in the 17th century when the focus of equality became a serious subject. Laws were reformed where fair trials were eventually witnessed by juries, speech became freer, as did religious freedom, and freedom from religion.

“The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.” – John Locke

Despite these things, the subject of ethical rights and freedom were discussed thousands of years before in classical Greece by a wide range of philosophers, including the Stoics, Sophists and the Cynics, who believed virtue was the only path to a great life, as did the Peripatetics, who Aristotle was part of. He clearly had a positive influence and contributed towards liberalism, but as for being the father, I disagree completely, but his scientific works, and his views on how to gain knowledge are still influential to this day.

Black lives really do matter

No doubt I will face a backlash for this like I did on Twitter earlier, but I’m not ever going to stop asking questions that are relevant to the society we live in. I asked earlier if supporters of the ‘black lives matter‘ movement was going too far by rioting, vandalism and looting, and I had mixed responses, but the majority suggested that for any movement to succeed there needs action, which I do agree with to an extent, but African Americans have been oppressed for centuries, and despite the civil rights movement in the sixties, violence and protests happened, ‘Martin Luther King‘, and ‘Malcolm X‘ were assassinated, and what really changed? America currently has a President that’s got a huge following of evangelical, right wing, white supremacists, that hold positions in office, government, the police force and the judicial system. Is rioting, looting and vandalism the answer? No, it isn’t.

The issue of racism is deeply rooted in society, especially in certain parts of America, where society has little to no tolerance for the black, and Hispanic culture. Support for them has gained momentum world wide, which is great, but is the destruction of public property, or the tearing down of statues acceptable? The world is listening, but I’m starting to think that it’s seeing the actions of many as being unacceptable, and destructive to the cause against injustice. Do the black lives matter human rights movement approve of the way that this is being carried out, as I would imagine they’d want to fight against the oppression, and systematic racism imposed on the black community peacefully. The black lives matter movement has thirteen guiding principles, and not one of them focuses on rioting, looting, violence or vandalism, and despite several people claiming that you have to fight fire with fear, and spill blood for blood, that isn’t the answer. Education is the answer, and reform. The police force involved need to be made an example of, and punished severely, and police chiefs need to accept responsibility for the actions of their officers or nothing will change.

Thirteen guiding principles

Restorative Justice is the commitment to build a beloved and loving community that is sustainable and growing.

Empathy is one’s ability to connect with others by building relationships built on mutual trust and understanding.

Loving Engagement is the commitment to practice justice, liberation and peace.

Diversity is the celebration and acknowledgment of differences and commonalities across cultures.

Globalism is our ability to see how we are impacted or privileged within the Black global family that exists across the world in different regions.

Transgender Affirming is the commitment to continue to make space for our trans siblings by encouraging leadership and recognizing trans-antagonistic violence, while doing the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk.

Queer Affirming is working towards a queer-affirming network where heteronormative thinking no longer exists.

Collective Value means that all Black lives, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location, matter.

Intergenerational is a space free from ageism where we can learn from each other.

Black Families creates a space that is family friendly and free from patriarchal practices.

Black Villages is the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the “collective village” that takes care of each other.

Black Women is the building of women-centered spaces free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness.

Unapologetically Black is the affirmation that Black Lives Matter and that our love, and desire for justice and freedom are prerequisites for wanting that for others. These principles are the blueprint for healing and do not include nor do they support ignoring or sanitizing the ugliness and discomfort that comes with dealing with race and anti-race issues.

I am extremely sympathetic to each one of their guiding principles, and it’s sad that the world we live in has to have a movement like this because racism is still a large worldwide concern. The question that I asked on Twitter was not only is the looting, rioting, and vandalism going too far, but do actors need to apologise for comedy about black people, or shows being pulled from TV? I wasn’t trying to make a point that I agreed with the shows in question being allowed to make jokes about black people, or blackening up for roles, I genuinely asked because will it go too far? Will anyone that plays an LBGTQ character have to apologise for incorrect portrayal? I know we want equality, and fairness, but a white person blacking up is racist, but a black person whitening up isn’t. You can’t have double standards if you want equality for all. People seem to forget that racism can be a two way street, and because black people have been oppressed doesn’t mean that some aren’t racially against white people, or other creeds. But as soon as you dare say something like that, that’s considering a little controversial, I’m accused of being ignorant, or racist, or someone who doesn’t understand because I’m a white privileged man. Despite that, I’d have dragged that police officer off ‘George Floyd‘ even if there was a risk of being shot. Preservation of life, and dignity is paramount.

Stoicism: is virtue the only good?

‪’Stoicism‘ is a philosophy that began in the Hellenistic Age in Ancient Greece, which became an extremely strong influence on the understanding of ethics. As ‘Socrates‘ said, ‘to know is to know oneself‘, and reason was the source of discovering value. Stoics believed that many things were out of our control, but our thoughts aren’t, and the way to reach an ideal state of mentality was to apply logic, reason and virtue, and it’s futile to become unhappy about things beyond our control. ‬

‪”Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” – Marcus Aurelius‬

‪Stoics contemplated a lot about actions they’d made during the day, and if they feel they were unjust, irritated or made angry over something irrelevant or trivial, they’d reconsider their actions for the following day, and when the next day arrives they’d remind themselves that life can be hard, and that they will face challenges that are often out of their control. They will encounter people that will be frustrated, rude, ignorant, and by reflecting in advance, they’d aim to rise above them and refrain from being provoked. ‬

‪”Just keep in mind: the more we value things outside our control, the less control we have. Epictetus‬

So what are the principles of stoicism? ‬

‪’Zeno of Citium‘ invented stoicism around 300 years BCE, and was originally called Zenonism before its name change. It became extremely popular as people wanted to pursuit a good and happy life, and became an extension of cynicism. The stoic fourfold scheme is as follows:‬

‪* Love the truth and seek wisdom‬

‪* Act with justice, fairness, and kindness toward others‬

‪* Master your fears and be courageous‬

‪* Master your desires and live with self-discipline‬

Stoicism is about learning to control your emotions, by learning self discipline, by applying reason to reach clear, concise, unbiased judgements. It resembles Buddhism in its four noble truths, and is a great philosophy, it’s just hard to master, as whilst I was writing this I got angry with two people on social media.