Hi, I am Angelina Souren. The image above is from a video in which I explain how stigmas work. I learned a lot about stigmas after I moved from Amsterdam to England at the end of 2004. I’ve previously lived in the US.
I am an earth and life scientist with an interest in bioethics (s.l.).
It was Fritz Jahr who came up with the word “bioethics” in 1927 when he published the article: “Bio-Ethik: Eine Umschau über die ethischen Beziehungen des Menschen zu Tier und Pflanze” (Bioethics: A look at the ethical relationships of humans to animals and plants”).
Jahr’s article introduced what he would later call “the Bioethical Imperative”:
“All living beings are entitled to respect and should be treated not as means but as ends in themselves.”
So “bioethics” is about accommodating human and animal diversity and allowing everyone enough space to breathe and flourish, according to their own wishes and without harming anyone. This obviously means that we have to look after all species’ habitats as well as our own (earth) and it also means that bioethics includes medical and legal aspects.
I am not into consumerism. I am a feminist and I am a “boss”. Deal with it.
Nowadays, as a migrant in the UK, I often have to remind myself of what Steve Jobs used to say. He wasn’t only the son of a Syrian migrant, he also was into zen.
“The journey is the reward.“
This is more or less the same as what Kelly McGonigal advises in her TED Talk:
“Chase meaning in your life instead of trying to avoid discomfort.“
Not always that easy to put into practice.
But, as Martin Ford said in his TED Talk about the future of jobs, what would happen if you’d drop someone like Steve Jobs on an isolated uninhabited tropical island, without any resources and means of communication?
He’d be running around collecting coconuts to survive, like anyone else!
If you don’t focus on the journey in such circumstances, you’d drive yourself nuts with frustration.
This would not only apply to people like Steve Jobs but also to Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg or Nigel Farage or any other rich Tory.
British society (including the British government which reflects this society) needs to learn how to become more compassionate and much less callous and abusive, and it has to do away with the idiotic idea that some people aren’t really proper humans – the British class system – so that Britain’s people can become a lot happier and much more content because they can feed, house and clothe themselves and keep themselves from freezing in winter and not spend so many days sick with worry.
When tens of thousands of people in a moderate climate die every year because they cannot afford to heat their homes, something is wrong.
Even worse, a western society in which 30 to 40% of the children are growing up in poverty – some of it very deep poverty and homelessness – because their parents are not deemed to be humans who deserve to be able to support themselves is effectively destroying itself. This kind of abusive society produces many deprived and abused children who are not even being allowed to develop healthy balanced brains.
That should not be the case and it does not have to be the case. It’s also actually disastrous for the economy, says Jeremy Grantham, a British investor and co-founder of Grantham, Mayo, & van Otterloo, which is based in Boston, in the US.
(At the same time, excessive consumerism needs to be curbed for the sake of our survival as a species. Both ideas actually work together very well.)
Although it also has aspects that help counter this, Britain’s a very unwell society relative to what I’ve seen elsewhere. And it is not the result of Britain’s membership in the EU, to the contrary. Britain’s exit from the EU is a sign of how unwell its society is. It is like the child in the playground that refuses to play with other children in harmony but instead stands in the sidelines, slinging mud and stones at the other kids.
In line with how the UK government has been abusing its own children, the UK has just turned its back on earlier promises made towards refugee children on the way to Britain to join relatives there (this decision has meanwhile been made into law). If we don’t let those children in, it’s going to be another Amritsar, really, because we all know what is going to happen to most of these children now. (Slavery, use in child porn, use in snuff films.) Too many of these refugee children have already disappeared.
And so the cycles of abuse continue.
The people who voted for the Conservatives on 12 December 2019 voted for child abuse. If you are one of those voters, then I hope you can justify that for yourself so that you can continue to sleep well, though it beats me how on earth someone would be able to do that.
The man behind the shocking Amritsar massacre was initially applauded for it too, in Britain. He became a hero among those in Britain who benefited financially. Initially.
I was part of a demonstration in Parliament Square in London in June 2019, in which Lord Dubs also participated. Plenty of city councils in the UK have places waiting for child refugees, but the UK refuses to let them in.
It was the second, no, third, no, fourth demonstration I have been part of. A long time ago, I demonstrated against apartheid, in Amsterdam, at an event during which Allan Boesak spoke in Museum Square. In Portsmouth, I have walked around town in solidarity against violence directed at women and in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo during “Je suis Charlie”.
I’ve attended “Beyond Windrush”, a meeting on the hostile environment, organized by Liberty in London and I’ve been to a debate with the current mayor of London (Sadiq Khan). I’ve sat in the audience during a meeting of the London Assembly (a visit that was sponsored by Portsmouth City Council, I should add, at a time when some funny American who cycled a lot was London’s mayor). In Portsmouth, I’ve attended various meetings and debates, mostly in 2009 and 2010, when I still knew almost nothing about Britain’s massive inequality and what that looks like in daily life. Among others, I’ve heard Vince Cable speak at the University of Portsmouth when he was Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and I’ve heard LSE law professor Conor Gearty talk about human rights in the UK, at Le Café Parisien. I’ve heard MP Penny Mordaunt speak and I’ve heard MP Mike Hancock speak.
Many of these activities usually quickly get you into the databases of the UK’s counterterrorism police. As if staying at home, knitting by the fire, baking apple pies and pretending everything is going perfectly well would be so much better!
We are society. All our individual actions determine what society looks like. If you stay silent when you see things that aren’t right, you are effectively signalling that you’re okay with it.
That people can get emotional about topics that are close to their heart only makes sense.
In a fair and just society with a great deal of equality, you won’t have many disgruntled people with lots of worries (so, much less tension in society). No children should have to grow up in deep poverty or in war situations.
(And let’s face it, culling badgers to stop bovine TBC is largely scientific nonsense carried out to make some farmers feel that DEFRA is doing something for them.)
Acknowledging that and even sounding enraged about innocent animals being killed, well, doesn’t that indicate that you’re actually a very positive human being, one that is against senseless killings and for life? The same goes for any other kind of environmental activism. Environmental activism means that you want the human species to survive.
For UK counterterrorism to list such movements (PETA, Greenpeace, “Stop the badger cull”, pro-cycling groups and many others) as potential breeding grounds for extremist terrorism along with genuine extremists who are against certain humans reflects the counterterrorism services’ own low level of professionalism (efficiency and effectiveness).
(Or does it reflect something else?)
Along with millions of people in the world, I also sign many petitions and write many e-mails in support of the wellbeing of humans and non-human animals.
(It often feels futile, but in the course of 2019, I received many e-mails that taught to me that it isn’t at all. I received messages about people freed or located, laws changed, animals rescued and taken to a sanctuary and finally receiving medical care, and also people letting us know that the birthday messages they got while illegally imprisoned meant a lot to them. And no, No. 10, we are not in a small “Westminster bubble”, we are all over the world.)
It is the least you can do as a responsible grown-up in a democracy. If you can’t do that and can’t participate in demonstrations, you’re living in a dictatorship.