NI 529 exposes our lack of vision for a sustainable way of life. In ‘The case for nature’, Dinyar Godrej argues that for us to behave less like vengeful gods towards the rest of the natural world, the key is equality. ‘Finntopia’ celebrates Finland, ‘one of the few environments on earth that replicates most closely the situation in which we are most content: when we are caring for each other ... and no-one is greatly elevated or diminished.’ But as Vanessa Baird points out on the back page (What if…), Finland, along with Norway and Sweden, is among the most environmentally unsustainable countries in the world. Alas Finland is not – yet – the answer. And equality – though a vital element – does not suffice. The Western world needs a new vision of how to live. Such a vision, at least on a national scale, appears to be absent in Europe.
The world could indeed be a better place if every human being lived as Maggie Hall (Why I …, NI 529) describes. The choices and actions of human beings are breaking our world and our societies on a global scale and have been increasingly doing so throughout my lifetime (I’m 63). Human beings consistently seem to be unable to accept other human beings of differing faiths, ethnic origins, gender definitions, ethical viewpoints, etc. Perhaps a better way might be to commit to loving our neighbours as ourselves, whether our neighbour is in the same house, the house next door, the country next door... If only we could do that.
I read your article on political blackness (Long Read, NI 528) with interest. Like many I find it confusing that the term ‘black’ means different things to different people. Regardless of how it is used, it encourages the classification of people by the colour of their skin. This is unfair to other ethnic groups: East Asians suffer discrimination in a similar way to ‘blacks’, Jews have suffered antisemitism for centuries and closer to home the Irish have suffered discrimination in the past, as have Eastern Europeans more recently.
If we are grouping together South Asians and Afro-Caribbeans, groups that have little in common culturally, then surely it would be better to include other ethnic groups and get rid of the term ‘black’? The term BAME is an attempt to do this, but seems an ugly combination of letters. Surely both Black and Asian are Minority Ethnicities so why not just refer to ‘ethnic minorities’?
Green shoots of change
Reading ‘Care not cops’ (NI 528) here in Oxford, where Cecil Rhodes still gazes down smugly from his perch on the High Street, had a particular resonance. There is still no date for the statue’s removal, despite huge protests in the summer. Amy Hall’s article is a salutary reminder that systemic racism and police violence continue to be tolerated and normalized, and are by no means confined to the US.
But, as in Minneapolis, community-based initiatives are springing up here too. Mothers 4 Justice Ubuntu, campaigning for justice, accountability and change within the police and criminal justice system, was launched by Jabu Nala-Hartley and Michelle Coddrington-Rogers to focus on ‘children... trapped in the revolving door of the criminal justice system, from the preschool to prison pipeline’.
I have seen many different translations of the wonderful word ‘Ubuntu’: probably the most succinct is ‘collective humanity’; but I think my favourite is ‘I am because we are’.
We failed to print one of the stanzas from the poem ‘Apolitical Intellectuals’, which was beautifully brought to life by ILYA in our Cartoon History (pages 44-47, NI 529). The complete, corrected version can be seen on our website: digital.newint.com.au
Why I am... devoted to social care
Until recently Care was not thought about much. It’s a sector dominated by women, both as workers and as recipients (in older people’s care); sadly, that may be partly why it has been undervalued. As a retired social worker and trustee of a care home, I believe the best measure of quality in Social Care is the interaction between the worker and the person receiving support. That means me spending enough time with you to get past the niceties and through our less desirable features to the real me and the real you. There we can do great things. Social Care enriches life when it is delivered well.