The practice of violence changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world’. Hannah Arendt
For decades now sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims has engulfed the Middle East and central Asia. The conflict has spilled over into the West, most notably in the 9/11 attacks, while the ensuing ‘War on Terror’ has further poisoned relations between the West and the Muslim world. Today sectarian violence is spreading to North and East Africa, creating an arc of instability across the African continent. Three decades of brutal Sunni-Shia conflict tragically illustrates the intractable nature of sectarian violence. It also demonstrates how religious fundamentalism can too often give those with dangerous personality disorders an easy path to power. Continue reading →
Director Kim Longinotto’s new film tells the remarkable story of the Tamil poet Salma and her lifelong rebellion against the stifling misogynistic culture of her village in southern India. For decades, poetry provided Salma with a mental escape from the unbearable conditions to which she was subjected. Her story is one of quiet heroic rebellion against a culture which crushes the female spirit. Continue reading →
This week I had the honour of being interviewed by Rob Kall for his Bottom Up Radio Show. Rob is the executive editor and publisher of OpEdNews.com one of the top 100 blogs overall, according to Technorati.com
The interview was an opportunity for us to explore in some depth some of the main issues surrounding people with dangerous personality disorders, the damage they cause, and what we can do to protect ourselves from the violence and suffering they inflict. Continue reading →
“Great revolutions in science have a common denominator: They knock human arrogance off one pedestal after another of our conviction about our own self-importance.”
Science is one of the defining features of our age. Scientific knowledge and the technologies we have developed based on that knowledge have transformed our world. In 1700, over 80 percent of the world’s population lived in abject poverty and average life expectancy was less than forty years. In London, then the world’s most developed city, almost 60 per cent of children died before they reached the age of ten. During the last few turbulent centuries, science and technology have changed everything, ushering in standards of health and income never before seen in history.
Aside from its practical use, science is also one of modern civilisation’s most valuable cultural assets. Science has not only transformed our understanding of ourselves and our place in nature, it has also brought with it a set of values which have helped to bring us out of the dark ages of stagnation and superstition and give us a belief in progress and reason. And in an age that is increasingly characterised by selfishness and self-absorption, science can also provide a powerful remedy for narcissism. Continue reading →
For me this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice.
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, addressing a crowd of 250,000 people in Washington, inspired America with his vision of a future in which his children would ‘not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ Today King is honoured as a hero, and the Civil Rights campaign he led is celebrated as having ended an appalling injustice. But for most of history the racist beliefs against which he fought were almost universally accepted in white societies. Continue reading →
This month, India celebrated sixty seven years of independence from British rule. Almost seven decades ago many ridiculed the idea that a stable democracy could be established in so poor, vast and diverse a country. A senior British official, observing India’s first general election, reflected the views of many in the British establishment when he wrote, ‘A future more enlightened age will view with astonishment the absurd farce of recording the votes of millions of illiterate people.’ Continue reading →
The month of August marks a series of tragic anniversaries in Japan. On August 6th and 9th, 1945, atomic bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing over 100,000 men, women and children in seconds. On August 15 that year, Japan finally surrendered to U.S. Forces and brought an end to the war in the East. Continue reading →