Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

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Simon is a philosopher and activist. He is Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform and Secretary to Citizen Network: a global cooperative to achieve a world where everyone matters.

Essays, thoughts, poems, prayers and quotes:


Equality of Opportunity

4th July 2011

When we demand equality we are rightly demanding recognition of our fundamental equality - our essential human dignity or worth. And naturally we often want this deep equality to be reflected in our social and…

Turning Wealth into a Desert

4th July 2011

Generosity can make a little enough; but envy always turns wealth into a desert.

The Best Donor

4th July 2011

The best donor gives knowing that what is given is not their own - but is God’s.

The Gift of Equality

4th July 2011

He who treat as equals those who are far below him in human strength really makes them a gift of the quality of human beings, of which fate had deprived them. As far as it is possible for a creature, he reproduces the…

Democratic Welfare

4th July 2011

The struggle for democracy offers us a parallel to the struggle for decent welfare reform. Without this struggle political systems tend to autocracy and elitism.Welfare reform does not mean unfair cuts or…

Four Kinds of Designer

4th July 2011

There are four kinds of designer or innovator, each with their own style. No style is right; each has its merits and its limitations:Radical design - this is direct and active - it tries to identify a core functional…

Irony of Education

4th July 2011

The irony of education is that while as a process it demands all the plurality and innovation required in any attempt to reach the most exalted outcome, there is no way that outcome can be defined accept by reference to…

Educational Totalitarianism

4th July 2011

Article 26 of the Declaration of Human Rights(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.…

Crazy Systems

4th July 2011

A crazy system is one that defeats the purpose it was set up to achieve:When a system of income security discourages the poor from earning or saving money - this is crazinessWhen families can only get support when they…

When Dawn has Arrived

4th July 2011

A rabbi asked his students how they could tell when the dawn had come and morning prayers could be said. One student responded by saying, “When you can see the sheep on the hill.” Another suggested that…

Giving as God has Given

4th July 2011

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. On the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no…

The Gift of Judgement

4th July 2011

Arendt accepts from Kant that judgement emerges as a “peculiar talent which can be practised only and cannot be taught” because “judgement deals with particulars, and when the thinking ego moving among…

Justice and Mercy

4th July 2011

"Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha said: Once when I entered into the innermost part [of the sanctuary] to offer incense I saw Akhateriel Yah,  [trans. the crown of God] seated upon a high and exalted throne. He said to…

The Quality of Mercy

4th July 2011

"Rabbi Berekhiah said: When the Holy One was almost about to create Adam, he saw both the righteous and the wicked who were to issue from him. So He said: If I create him, wicked men will issue from; if I do not create him…

Why God Does Not Reveal Himself

4th July 2011

Hadrian Caesar asked Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah, “Does the world have a master?”Rabbi  Joshua: “Can you possibly suppose that the world is ownerless?” Hadrian: “And who created heaven and…

Everyone has Their Use

4th July 2011

The lame rides a horsethe maimed drives the herdthe deaf is brave in battle.A man is betterblind than buried.A dead man is deft at nothing.This poem comes from the Viking Havamal. It shows a recognition of the value of…

Dignity Comes First

4th July 2011

If you take a cloak from a neighbour as a pledge you must return it to him before sunset, for it is the only covering for his body and what else has to sleep in. If he shouts out to me I will hear him with mercy. Exodus…

The Citizenship Imperative

4th July 2011

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would help an alien or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from…

True Leaders in History

4th July 2011

True leadersare hardly known to their followers.Next after them are the leaderspeople know and admire;after them, those they fear;after them, those they despise. To give no trustis to get no trust.When the…

Oppression as a Reproach to God

Oppression as a Reproach to God

4th July 2011

Why is it an insult to God to oppress the poor?

Don't Take Advantage

Don't Take Advantage

4th July 2011

Justice is always best measured from the perspective of the weakest.

Designing from the Wrong End

Designing from the Wrong End

4th July 2011

The challenge of genuine social innovation and welfare reform - as with any other design challenge - is to figure out how to make the 'good idea' be more than a 'good idea'. This means understanding what sustains the…

Lincoln's Best Sort of Principle

Lincoln's Best Sort of Principle

4th July 2011

Lincoln's "best sort of principle" seems worth remembering, even if its insufficient on its own.

Power is a Poison

Power is a Poison

4th July 2011

Solzhenitsyn observes that the poison of power is deadly for those who believe in nothing but themselves.