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By: Kate | November 15, 2015

After the September 11 bombings New Internationalist magazine published an issue titled Twin Terrors. While acknowledging the horrific suffering that the attacks caused the American people, it gently pointed out that for millions of people around the world fear, uncertainty, loss and physical danger are a daily reality, and had been for many years. 


The magazine contained a quote by Mark Twain that has stayed with me ever since. Twain is best remembered as a humourist but he was also a fearless and insightful social critic. The quote comes from his novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, in which he reflects on the French Revolution, often referred to as The Reign of Terror: 


 There were two 'Reigns of Terror', if we could but reme...

Category: Ideas 

Tags: Suffering Mark Twain 

By: Kate | November 04, 2015

I've identified myself as a feminist for my entire adult life, but I've sometimes wondered whether the movement made a tactical error in its choice of name. 'Feminism' suggests a female problem, which the female population is responsible for solving. And yet the majority of the discrimination and abuse against women is carried out by possessors of the Y chromosome, suggesting that much of the problem lies with men, and that the responsibility for change must be shared by them. Indeed, with men still holding power in so many realms around the world, practical change has to involve men. Women can batter at the door demanding change, but far too often it is men that hold the keys.


The positioning of feminism as a women's movement has often crea...

Category: Ideas 

Tags: Gender equality 

By: Kate | October 25, 2015

“I believe in aristocracy, though -- if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but power to endure, and they can take a joke."

Category: Ideas 

Tags: EM Forster 

By: Kate | October 15, 2015

No, it isn't something you put on sushi. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy relating to concepts of beauty and grace in culture and nature. Traced back to writings in the 13th century, and with many links to Shinto Buddhism, it has been described as the beauty of things "imperfect, impermanent and incomplete." 


Wabi-sabi comprises many ideas. Wabi means transient and stark beauty and sabi refers to the beauty of natural patina and aging. This is linked to the concept of transience which is fundamental to the Buddhist philosophy. Wabi-Sabi cherishes beginnings and endings, and the evidence of changes that occur with the passing of time. It prefers to show a flower in bud or in decay rather than in full bloom. It cherishes the dent i...

Category: Ideas 

Tags: Japan Wabi-sabi Grace 

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