Routes to security
Making Peace in a World at War (NI515) was brilliantly done. I was moved and inspired by its accounts of what local people are doing to build peace in the midst of extreme violence and loved its brief introductions to individual peacemakers. I thought the policy-related articles about the crucial question of gender and the importance of diplomacy were excellent, too.
War is no route to human security. Rather, it is an all-out assault on it, destroying lives, homes and infrastructure, polluting the environment and driving forced migration. As former US President Dwight Eisenhower famously said: ‘Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.’ Meanwhile, the present and looming threat of global climate catastrophe goes unaddressed.
Cover to cover
I have subscribed to New Internationalist since I was a student in the 1970s – and last year became a co-owner. But of late I have rarely done more than flick through the magazine. This changed with the revamped September/October issue (NI515): I read it from cover to cover and have used it as a basis for a number of discussions with friends and family. I was particularly gripped by the longer articles on the work of peacebuilders in Nigeria and the perils of the ‘meritocracy’.
Obviously what really matters is the content of the magazine, but I think that the form does make a difference: as well as allowing space and time for these more considered pieces, the new NI is literally an easier read – not least with the clearer typeface and bright white background (especially important for those of us whose eyesight is not what it once was!). My one reservation concerned the cover picture, which was very striking and well-chosen, but when was it taken, who was the subject, what was his back-story? Other than that, though, a big thumbs-up for the redesign.
I’m sad to say that I don’t like the new format. It’s so thick that it’s very difficult to read without it being spread out as a double page, like a book. I didn’t finish reading your long article ‘The Merit Trap’ – found it unnecessarily long and rather boring. In contrast, The Big Story was interesting and informative, as were all the usual features.
What the Gazans crave most, what they need most of all, is to be able to live, in dignity and freedom. They want to be able to grow crops without their farmland being deliberately poisoned, their aquifer water stolen. They want to be able to fish without their fishermen [sic] being shot and boats stolen. They need safe drinking water. They want to be able to travel, to study abroad, to have visitors and to visit. They aren’t even allowed to visit relatives in Israel or the occupied West Bank. They want their children to have happy childhoods. Israel has just deliberately bombed a cultural centre in Gaza where adults and children were able to dance, learn and make music, read poetry. Gaza is often described as an open-air prison.
As for Palestinians residing in Israel, the Knesset has just made it clear that Israel is not their country. For how many more decades is the so-called ‘free world’ going to look the other way?
In the September/October edition of our magazine an article on intersex rights was published under the heading ‘Can torturing babies be ok?’ We have since learned from the author, Valentino Vecchietti, that this could cause distress to the intersex community. We regret this and would like to make it clear that the title was an editorial decision and not that of the author. Online versions of the article now appear under the headings ‘Our bodies, our rights’ or ‘Intersex rights matter’.
...support city farms.
In the wake of post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, I became concerned about food security in cities. Working with youth groups, I set up the first organic farm in Kibera, said to be the largest informal settlement in Nairobi and the African continent. Ten years later, the farm is feeding 74 families, makes a profit, has two spin-off businesses and attracts visitors from around the world. Now I want to deepen my understanding of urban gardening – so last month I started a Social Anthropology PhD on this topic, with an accompanying podcast that will build networks and engage the public on this important conversation.