My background did not start with the East Side; it started with Greenwich Village, which is West Side.
Who is a professional? A professional is someone who has a combination of competence, confidence and belief. A water diviner is a professional. A traditional midwife is a professional. A traditional bone setter is a professional. These are professionals all over the world. You find them in any inaccessible village around the world.
I had rather be first in a village than second at Rome.
In 1965, I went to what was called the worst Bihar famine in India, and I saw starvation, death, people dying of hunger, for the first time. It changed my life. I came back home, told my mother, ‘I’d like to live and work in a village.’ Mother went into a coma.
Jeff Sachs has the Millennium Villages. He spends $2.5 million in one village. It’s an absolutely ridiculous model, because I’ve said that if you gave me $2.5 million, I can train 100 grandmothers, solar electrify 100 villages – 10,000 houses – and save you 100,000 litres of kerosene.
The destruction of India’s village system was the greatest of England’s blunders.
Two days after the Boston marathon bombings, there was a drone strike in Yemen attacking a peaceful village, which killed a target who could very easily have been apprehended. But, of course, it is just easier to terrorise people. The drones are a terrorist weapon; they not only kill targets but also terrorise other people.
My father took me back home, back to Greenwich Village, and he thought by taking me out of the orphanage he’d be out of the World War too. But no way – they got him anyway. He went in the Navy and then I lived on the streets.
Within my own life, I read all the beloved novels by lamps of vegetable oil; I saw the Standard Oil invading my own village, I saw gas lamps in the Chinese shops in Shanghai; and I saw their elimination by electric lights.
The new electronic independence re-creates the world in the image of a global village.