Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Secular Thoughts

There are quite a number of different "thought for the day" sites inspired by BBC Radio 4's prejudiced and bigoted Thought for the Day.

First of all you can check the BBC's original version Thought for the Day, which has transcripts and a podcast that is available world-wide and not just restricted to the UK.

Then you have the Platitude for the Day which provides transcripts and rates the level of platitude of the BBC's Thought of the Day speakers. Another commentary on the Thought for the Day speakers is Afterthought for the Day, with some amusing summaries on what the speakers are really saying.

Then we have two positive alternatives, rather than criticising the poor quality of the actual Radio 4 content, providing secular and hopefully higher quality thoughts.

We have the Thought for the World which has thoughts from some of our top philosophers, columnists, scientists and writers. And we now have the the Secular Thought for the Day which is open for us all to contribute and to which I already have.

On my this latter point of my contribution I want share some thoughts.

First of all it was an interesting - and time consuming - exercise to squeeze my thought down to 300 words (I think I did it at 302 in the end). I note that it suffered from some vagueness and more than slightly missed some of my intent as a result.

Secondly I have re-read mine and looked at others and do not think mine is very good. Now a reason for that is that I have never paid much attention to the Radio 4 show, especially given the amount of many annoying thoughts for the day I heard when I did pay attention. Now I have these other sites to check, it gives me a far better idea of what a thought for the day should entail. Not only in terms of writing further thoughts but also that I really do think the a regular thought for the day to reflect upon is indeed a good idea and all the more reason to get rid of the implicit bigotry and prejudice built in to the Radio 4 show.

Anyway as I have already noted writing a secular thought took longer than any of my longer blog posts. So what I plan to do and am starting today here, is when one of my thoughts gets published on the Secular Thoughts site, I will later republish it here on the day when I am preparing my next thought. Lets see if I can do better than this one, not hard I imagine you thinking :-)


What will be the implications of the financial meltdown in the future? The nearest equivalent happened in 1929 and ended up with WWII. Can we avoid anything similar recurring? Or are our freedoms to be sacrificed to protect us from such threats and others like dwindling resources, climate change and terrorism?

Everyone seeks to fulfill their desires. One of the blocks to this is actions by others that prevent or hinder us in realising our desired ends. When there are such clashes we can reason and criticise others to not hinder, deliberately or otherwise, the pursuit of our ends. One can also seek to convince them through praise and blame, honours and sanctions to have desired ends that are, at least, compatible with ours. And they will do the same to us.

The danger is that people can go beyond such social forces resorting to threats, power, tradition, influence, violence and worse to achieve their own ends over ours. That is what underlies our freedoms is the ability to socially and reciprocally chose and modify our own ends without such threats and worse. How do we best preserve our freedoms without recourse ourselves to such threats and worse?

We can chose to see what is in most everyone's interest and then coherently and consistently reason and criticise, praise and blame such ends that are against most everyone's interest and encourage everyone else to do the same - including back to you. Reasoning thus you might have to revise your own ends but that is the freedom you want to preserve - the alternative is that these are decided for you or, worse, imposed by force. If we mutually encourage each other we can minimise the chance of this occurring. It is up to us to exercise our freedom to preserve our freedom.

By the way I was one the factors in introducing votes for these thoughts and I did not vote myself top marks for mine. I have also suggested that the highest ranked thought over two weeks is submitted to the Humanist Symposium Carnival, so please check all the thoughts and vote for what you think really is the best. This will provide feedback to all us writers on how to improve our thoughts, whether it is in terms of content or style.