Slow food, slow journalism, slow photography â€¦ Just when the world seemed to be getting faster and faster, some folks decided to cool things down.
The Italians were the first to put on the brakes when a protest against the opening of a (fast food) McDonaldâ€™s in Rome, in 1986, morphed into the Slow Food movement. Despite its name, the aim isnâ€™t about intentionally procrastinating or using only slow cookers. Itâ€™s more about doing things at the right pace, favoring quality over quantity.
Since then, the deceleration trend has spread quickly, touching on everything from traveling to money, technology and education. The past few years have seen the development of even more surprising slow concepts. Here are five that caught our eye:
While some people turn to botox or cosmetic surgery to hide the effects of aging, others are focusing on ways to "slow" the process, to age more successfully with the help of healthy diets, hygiene, sleep, exercise, environments and social activity.
Tobacco, alcohol and drugs are, of course, big no-no's. But other requirements such as reducing the intake of calories by 30%, balanced by a personalized diet that provides the right amounts of proteins, vitamins and minerals, could extend the average life by about 25 years, as The Telegraph reported.
Others methods for a long life include helping and being kind to others. Charitable behavior, according to the BBC, results in endorphin releases that decrease stress and reinforce the immune system. Brain exercises through meditation are also advised to prevent age-related mental diseases. Other studies have found that simply being happy and optimistic can improve oneâ€™s health and lifespan. In that case, perhaps the real secret to long life is to watch YouTubeâ€™s 2 million cat videos.
Watching this video could make you live longer.
The Cittaslow (â€œslow cityâ€) movement, like slow food, originates from Italy. It was founded in 1999 by Paolo Saturnini, the former mayor of the small town of Greve in Chianti, in Tuscany. The organization, now present in nearly 200 (mostly small) towns across 30 countries, aims to rethink the way we conceive, build and move around in urban spaces.
The Huffington Post explains that if a city wants to join the movement, it must correspond to 55 criteria, divided into six parts: environmental policy, infrastructure, quality of public space, encouragement of local products, hospitality and slow city awareness among residents.
As The Boston Globe explained in May, slow parenting loosely means â€œno more rushing around physically and metaphorically, no more racing kids from soccer to violin to art class. Slow parenting cherishes quality over quantity, being in the moment, and making meaningful connections with your family.â€
The movement, in other words, is about practicing mindfulness together as a family.
The concept is already a few years old. Back in 2009, the British author Carl Honoré said in an interview with The New York Times that slow parenting was â€œabout bringing balance into the home.â€ To do so, slow parents advocate interactive activities. This means playing with toys, board games or just running around outdoors â€" basically what children used to do in the good old days.
Gardening might not seem like the most frantic activity in the first place, but some green-thumbed individuals think horticulture should be slower still. Born in the U.S. shortly after the slow food movement, slow gardening is, as its name might suggest, about being patient with plants, trees, vegetables and lawns.
Slow gardeners think yardwork should be pleasurable, not just a chore people are obliged to get through, as The Cambrian reports. Other fancy horticulture concepts include permaculture, artistic landscaping, urban, community, square-foot or edible gardening.
The slow sex movement is basically the final form of the Western world meeting tantrism. The concept consists in leaving aside bestial urges, and instead â€œputting the emphasis on rediscovering desire by playing with oneâ€™s senses and sensations,â€ as Canoe explains. In other words, no more quickies.
Slow sex enthusiasts often engage in creating a cozy, gentle atmosphere, simply watching each other for several minutes, massaging each other and talking during and after the act. As Grazia reports, â€œsophrological stripteases,â€ or the art of taking oneâ€™s clothes off while meditating, can also help.
Such approaches to physical relations have been around for centuries in other cultures, especially in the Hindu Tantric beliefs. But in the West, it became a real concept when the South African author Diana Richardsonâ€™s published her book Slow Sex: The Path to Fulfilling and Sustainable Sexuality, in 2011. It seems the Western world finally discovered that with physical relations â€" as is the case with gardening, aging and eating â€" there's just no need to rush.
A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.
BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.
Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.
The incident at the cemetery
They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."
There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.
It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.
The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.
The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender
Crimes against Jews are rising
Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.
Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.
Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.
And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?
Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously
This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.
Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.
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