New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 145

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] YOUTH[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. God-given strength

I felt the article ‘God moves in a mysterious way’ (NI 143) was confusing and open-ended (though not open-minded). It lacked a serious look at how Christianity can help in world development.

It is logical, as well as biblical, that if anyone is going to help sort out the world’s problems, then his/her own, must be sorted out first. In the article, Michael’s relationship with God has given him peace, confidence, meaning, humility and joy (to name but five desirables) and, as far as I can tell, only taken away his fear. How on earth can such a change be hurtful?

Surely Cameron Forbes would have been wiser to follow this through rather than waste space writing about Michael’s job.

On a second point: the Bible is not at all sexist. It says that men are designed for certain functions/roles and women for others. We are all just as important to God.

S N Carter
Taunton
Somerset, UK

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Biker’s gripe

Times are hard for motorcyclists, and things are not made any easier by using one to illustrate ‘risktaking’, ‘anything illegal’ and ‘death or injury’ (NI 143).

Martin Wykes
Stevenage
Herts, UK

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[image, unknown] TOURISM[image, unknown]

In different hands

Most Third World tourism (NI 142), as it presently operates, is a disaster. That need not be so. It is possible that tourism could be responsible, appropriate and beneficial to people of the Third World if only it were in different hands.

The Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism was formed in 1982 by partners from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Middle East to assist people of the Third World in their response to tourism. Recently we held a workshop on Alternative Tourism from which useful initiatives arose. Any readers interested in the workshop’s report please contact me at the address below.

Peter Holden
Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism
P0 Box 9-25
Bangkhen
Bangkok 10900
Thailand

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Getting their hands dirty

Although tourism is usually soft exploitation of Third World countries (NI 142) it can be an opportunity to personally help. Six young Christian friends of mine have been doing people-to-people work in Bangalore. As ‘tourists’ they have been buying and distributing basic medicines (for example worm tablets, vitamin pills) to the poorer Indians; cleaning the local toilet block; washing beggar children; buying and planting coconut trees and painting community murals. It took time at first, purely observing and listening to local people, but my friends soon discovered many simple, practical ways to help. If you’d like to know more write to P0 Box 3840, Indiria Nagar, 560038 Bangalore, India.

Malcolm West
Petersham
Sydney, Australia

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[image, unknown] GENERAL[image, unknown]

Sound investment

In response to V A Wallace’s letter (NI 143), an investment scheme to finance Third World development does exist. The Ecumenical Development Co-operative Society (ECDS), founded in 1975 on a World Council of Churches initiative, has associations in Europe including SIAL (Scottish-Churches-Action-for-World-Development Investment Association Ltd), based in Scotland.

Individuals or groups can buy shares in SIAL and receive a small dividend of two per cent. The funds are used to provide loans to small-scale enterprises in poorer countries seeking to promote self-help development. Projects applying for loans are assessed by ECDS’ own staff, and have included co-operative projects in agriculture, a house-construction programme in India and wool processing in Peru.

Further information is available from
SCAWD Investment Association Ltd,
41 George IV Bridge,
Edinburgh EHl lEL.

Rosemary Potter
Kirkcaldy, UK

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More on Morocco

Mike Rose’s piece on Morocco (NI 142) somewhat distorts the picture. Hassan’s absurd regime is certainly insecure but to describe his monarchy as ‘parvenu’ is to ignore Moorish history, which is composed exactly of a series of dynasties arising from the south in puritan reaction to one another’s propensity to succumb to the softer, civilised ways of the north.

Hassan’s line, the Alouites, has been the latest of these, coming to power in the 17th century and, with the brief Franco-Spanish interregnum, holding on to it ever since. He is still, whatever he and the French may have us believe, not just sultan but imam as well. This alone enables him to go on playing the absolute monarch.

Hassan maintains strict religious rule because he is sensitive to the fate of former dynasties once they gave in to the good life. His extravagances are mainly of a ridiculous decorative kind - creation of pseudo-French ‘Academies’ and the like. His habit of sequestering hotels (for his greater personal security) is mirrored by the Presidents of Marxist Algeria and Parliamentary Tunisia.

Mike Rose should also have pointed out the very great differences between the Arab north and the Berber south - the latter a much more relaxed place largely maintaining the ways of a gentler race of people.

As for ‘the wishes of the Western Saharans’ (all 150,000 of them), who can say what they are? They are a nomadic people whose lot will not much be affected one way or the other whoever rules them. We can only say we know what Hassan and Algeria want: phosphates. And presumably the Algerians would not mind access to the Atlantic

J V Stevenson
London 5E17 UK

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Chains that bind

How strange that people should be shocked to find that leg irons are still used, or to find that these ‘barbarous devices’ are manufactured in the industrialized West and shipped to countries ‘with a shocking record in human rights’! (NI 141). This is just another example (and actually it is a fairly trivial one) of how Western business goes about fashioning the chains that bind people in underdeveloped countries.

It would be equally naive to imagine that developed countries are above the use of such instruments. Last year I had the pleasure of wearing leg irons in Canada. There were about one hundred and ten of us arrested for trespassing on the property of Litton Systems. We were protesting that company’s manufacture of the guidance system for the cruise missile. At the same time, we were protesting the construction of counter-insurgency training camps in Honduras by Litton Industries, the American parent company. We (that is, we males - females were not restricted in precisely this fashion) were transported to holding cells in manacles and leg irons. It is important to note that leg irons were not used in this case as instruments of torture, nor were they primarily restraining devices. They were symbols, and they were supposed to give us a message about the limits of freedom in Canada. The message is this: if you attempt to interfere with corporate profit-making or to seriously introduce the issue of public control over’private (corporate) ‘property’ (means of production/destruction) - whatever the basis of your objections and whatever the corporate activity - your government will shackle you.

By the way, I had to kneel in the presence of the police in order to have the leg irons removed.

Graeme Mac Queen
Hamilton
Ontario Canada

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Hot-spot

Could I suggest the poster below?

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Arthur Murray
Portsmouth
Hampshire, UK

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Michael’s choice

Although the article ‘Evangelism and Youth’ (NI 143) was quite fair, your editorial treatment of it was appalling. The headline finished ‘The evangelical movement have given (Michael) much - but taken away something too.’ This is simply not true. After rereading the piece several times I cannot find a hint of ‘something being taken away’ - whatever ‘something’ may mean.

Then the text is centred around a photo of Billy Graham even though he is not mentioned in the article. Michael did not become a Christian because of Billy Graham. And why put in the jibe about Graham’s ‘close friendship’ with Richard Nixon, especially as you do not substantiate the extent of this friendship. In any case, Billy Graham’s position in standing for truth and honesty in private and public life is quite independent of any sort of contact he has with people who have fallen down in these areas.

Finally the ‘tough choices’ you select are absolutely nothing to do with any choice that Michael faces. Instead you focus on your own pet hobbies: ‘is it sexist?’ ‘Does he blindly serve an unjust social order?’ ‘Is he being exploited?’ How hugely you have missed the point.

Ian Galloway
Byker
Newcastle, UK

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