I’ve sat through some mind-numbing, pointless meetings in the course of my working life. I’ve certainly chaired a few! On a couple of occasions, I’ve half-seriously considered breaking the tedium by feigning a medical emergency (though my colleagues would probably assume I was bored and messing around, then ignore me anyway).
So, I was taken aback during a routine meeting with close colleagues in early 2018 when I found myself fighting back tears. I wasn’t speaking and the point under discussion did not relate to me. …
Is it ever right to kill or to let someone die? These are questions I have wrestled with over the past two decades and philosophers have argued about for millennia.
For most of that time, I was safely tucked away in a lecture theatre, indulging myself and my students — some military, some civilian — as we discussed impossible choices and how to make them. Cold, calm judgements in the making. At least in theory.
It is easy to be an expert in hypothetical situations where there is no physical, mental or ethical risk. When there is no emotional engagement…
“We thought you were going to die.” Concern and pity were etched on the faces of the two 20-something women training near me last week at my gym.
My lungs were heaving like an asthmatic 40-a-day smoker climbing the Eiffel Tower. Even I thought death was a possibility. I nodded in acknowledgement, unable to speak.
If I had told them what I was really feeling in that instant they would not have believed me. And they would not have understood.
Hands on knees, I was still bent over the loaded deadlifting bar, staring down at my nemesis. 8 reps. Just.
“You are one of the most f**ked up people I have ever met.”
The speaker looked me straight in the eye as he delivered his assessment. Calm, measured and completely without malice. The statement was accompanied by gentle chuckling, sympathetic rather than mocking.
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. On the one hand I knew I wasn’t feeling great, but on the other hand I also felt reasonably un-f**ked.
If I was being honest with myself — and I was really trying — I’d have to admit that this summary hardly constituted a ringing confidence in my general wellbeing…
I can still recall the whip-crack of my neck as I did a double-take. It was the moment on which my life pivoted. The year was 1986 and I was 19.
A glimpse of her gliding past in my peripheral vision set off an involuntary chain reaction. Neurons fired in the primal region of my brain. Before conscious thought even began, I found myself staring after her. I could only see her face in profile. And I became aware I was looking upwards to follow her eye line.
She had to be six foot tall. Several inches taller than…
Hidden in every gym lurks a disturbing level of compulsive weirdness. Unless, that is, it’s my compulsion or your compulsion we’re talking about. Then it’s normal and not remotely weird. There are just certain things that you need to do in a gym, otherwise death, suffering and terrible disasters are certain to happen to family members or fellow trainers.
These compulsions are found in large gyms and small gyms. In shiny lycra gyms and old-school spit-and-chalk gyms. None are exempt.
Not everybody sees this invisible, parallel, slightly-mad universe that surrounds them amidst the squat racks, wall-length mirrors, and Smith machines…
Dear Radical Vegan,
Yes, you, the shouty one who goes on TV and radio and harangues me for eating meat.
Yes, you, who stole my seventh favourite month of the year and called it Veganuary. Who said you could rename 1/12th of my meat-eating calendar anyway?
Nobody asked me.
I have started getting indigestion. Not from my barbecued, medium-rare sirloin steak. Or my post-workout grilled chicken breast. Or even my McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese® (no pickle).
No, it’s your aggressive accusations, your hypocrisy and your psychological manipulation that stick in my craw.
I especially object to being labelled…
I was taking part in the 2003 Iraq War — Operation Iraqi Freedom — when I met one of the most offensively stupid human beings I’ve ever come across. Which is a pretty harsh thing for a former air force chaplain to say.
One of my few regrets in life is that I didn’t punch his lights out right there and then in the back of the military church where I met him. If I’d been a better chaplain maybe I would have done. I’ll come back to that.
I hate to use the word ‘stupid’. It’s demeaning, insulting and…
While the ultimate decision to carry out the attack has clearly been placed with the Trump administration, much of the reporting and commentary has still bought into the misleading idea that drones enable instant killing using machines that take away the risks and responsibilities of warfare from military personnel.
I have spent too much time in the company of death. It messes you up.
I have also spent too much time around physical and mental traumas, including some of my own.
And for 15 years I have been researching, reflecting on, and teaching about the ethics of violence and killing. Mainly in the context of war.
My personal and academic passion for such a cheerful subject emerged during my involvement in the 2003 Iraq War. War has a habit of making its practitioners think about that stuff. A lot. But my attitude towards justified violence was imprinted upon me…
Husband, father, ageing gym junkie, Professor of Applied Ethics, somewhat broken former military chaplain, and still excited by life and the big questions.