1. Today we live in a world obsessed with the idea of purity: a ‘clean’, un-adulterated version of who we are as a species, and at its core, the driving force behind popular political, religious and social agendas such as nationalism and radical fundamentalism. In a recent op-ed piece featured in The Guardian, Mohsin Hamid, the award-winning author of ‘Exit: West’ and ‘The Reluctant Fundementalist’ argues that there is no such thing as ‘pure’. We are, in essence, by-products of a mixture of atoms, blood-lines, and diverse histories. The author makes a persuasive call-to-arms summoning us to be of the impure, a fitting response to this destructive idea of purity.
“Climate change. Mass migration. Rampant inequality. None of the most pressing and daunting problems today facing humanity have simple answers. As a species, we require creative new approaches, yet-to-be-imagined leaps forward. But while we might not yet know what the solutions to these challenges are, we should already suspect from where the breakthroughs are most likely to come. They are likely to come from mongrelisation. From profound impurity. From people and ideas at risk of being suppressed and marginalised in our purity-obsessed age.”
I am sold.
2. I am only a few two chapters into this book but I am already really excited about it. Published in 2015, Stuffocation is a book that addresses the social, psychological, and environmental dangers of excessive consumerism and offers solutions to this. Drawing examples from research studies and personal testimonies, the author, James Wallman, makes an important case for living more with less.
3. A display commemorating the Holocaust Memorial Day at the library
This year’s theme of the HMD is ‘The Power of Words”. This display at my local library examines the impact that language has on influencing our lives and serves as a powerful reminder to choose our own words wisely.
The Holocaust and the recent genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, and South Sudan grew from propaganda machines that incited hate and violence towards specific groups of people of a certain ethnicity and/or religion. The oppressed were given labels (vermin, cockroaches) to dehumanise them. These atrocities grew because words were used to perpetrate evil.
However words are also powerful agents of the collective good.
‘I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I am so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s in me. When I write I can shake off all my cares; my sorrow disappears; my spirits are revived.’ Anne Frank
Read more stories from Holocaust and genocide survivors here. Their words offer so much hope despite the horrific evils they have faced in the hands of their oppressors.