I have to say how completely brilliant your edition on Myanmar is (NI 532). The last time I learnt so much was when you covered Western Sahara (NI 297, December 1997). It completely changed my understanding of a little-known conflict. I went to Burma as a traveller in the 1980s and always remember how kind the people were. It pains me to see what is happening now (and what was happening then). But the stories contained suggest that buried within the trauma are some exciting new beginnings.
I wholeheartedly agree with Hazel Healy’s assertion that food should be guaranteed for all (What if..., NI 532). It is a travesty that we allow so many to go hungry in a world of plenty. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled to an adequate standard of living, including food, housing, healthcare and social security. At Share the World’s Resources (STWR), our campaign vision is to see Article 25 made law in every nation, so everyone can enjoy a dignified life with the basics guaranteed. Its implementation would be transformational for our divided world; socially, politically and environmentally. But it will require the voice of people of goodwill everywhere, in all countries, to make it happen. So let’s unite and organize a mass movement for Article 25 beyond borders!
The story of the horrendous impact of colonial policies of relocation of first-generation Australians (‘Stolen generations’, Currents, NI 532) is a shameful account of a cultural assault that does nothing but diminish humanity.
In her article Zoe Holman describes the horrible impact of children being ripped from their mothers’ care to never see them again but sadly makes no mention of the loss of relationship with fathers. This omission cannot help the frequently skewed media portrayal of all women/mothers as carers and all fathers/men as, at best, unworthy of comment.
Points of access
The debate over access to women-only spaces is partly a matter of the point in a person’s transition at which access should be allowed, rather than whether access should be allowed per se. Some trans rights proponents favour the view that ‘self-ID’ is enough. This position is clearly open to abuse that would put women at risk. As the vast majority of violence is committed by those who are biologically male, concerns over allowing all trans women into women-only spaces is understandable. Furthermore, Agony Uncle’s argument that excluding trans women from such spaces ‘demonizes’ them is a non-sequitur (under the same logic, the very existence of women-only spaces would ‘demonize’ men).
Glynn Armstrong’s letter on confusing or awkward terminology such as ‘black’ and ‘BAME’ (NI 530) also relates to something I picked up from the ‘Finntopia’ Long Read in NI 529 – the Finns’ use of the term ‘rainbow people’ instead of ‘LGBTQI+’. What a lovely term! The trouble with LGBTQI+ is that originally there was just ‘LGB’ which was short enough to be remembered easily, but over the years this has gradually expanded into an unsnappy, ugly, hard-to-remember acronym (and I have seen even longer versions of it). Compare this with the word ‘gay’ which was taken up so successfully by the Gay Rights movements in the 1950s/60s. Replacing the clumsier ‘homosexual’ with a short word that already had a positive meaning was so effective that the original meaning has now fallen out of use and become effectively archaic. ‘Rainbow people’ is likewise a positive term.
I choose to live a simple life and expend few resources. A strong relationship with nature is important to me. Nature gives us everything: food, water to drink, fresh air, colours, flavours, shelter and warmth. Permaculture – or permanent agriculture – means gardens or forest-gardens that are designed to support high biodiversity. Taking care of the soil, for the myriad plants and insects, is a daily duty and joy, and also a form of meditation for me. I do this because I love the Earth and all its beauties, which I feel responsible for – for my own sake, and for my descendants.