21 blog posts series take twelve

21 blog posts series take twelve

Twelve: “The respect and responsibility nature demands”

Recently, NUI Galway students took an initiative to bring about the college to divest money in fossil fuels. Following a petition and an independent report, they were successful and supported by the University and the Students’ Union. What was remarkable about this was that they did not stop there. Following their success, they held a public meeting to generate further ideas about what to do next to the challenge facing the human race and the environment.

I think that this speaks volumes in terms of what we can do and must do as citizens of this planet. It is the people that must have the strength to change their ways and then encourage others to do the same. When we look at the big contributors to climate change, of course the indicators point to large businesses/factories and of course the oil and gas companies. We are consumers and this is the service we are receiving. If we aren’t happy with the service provided in terms of how the environment, our home is being treated – don’t we have the right to demand a change?

I would think that we do. Climate affects everything from what we do, how we do it to the food we eat and clothes we wear. It really is everything and without a healthy climate, wouldn’t everyday life be utterly changed? Change is never easy especially when we’re used to doing things a certain way, but when you look at the bigger picture here, it’s clear that changes are needed. We have endangered species, changing landscapes and ozone layer above our heads to protect. To really get the idea into our heads, it’s important to think ahead to the future of the planet.

The population is rising and technology is booming, as the first world grows – there’ll be more demands on resources and if current trends follow on, the inequality gap between rich and poor is surely to extend. This in turn could result in more people on the poverty line and a climate trying to cope with change as well as its people and governments. Interestingly, last month NUI Galway hosted TD Simon Coveney to present a discussion on how Ireland will be in 2040. Topics were discussed about what we can expect and plan for, from how people will work to where they would live. Obviously this is much down the line, but again it was something rewarding to experience that the country is investing in planning and realises the importance of input from everyone.

It comes back to the power of peoples voices to tackle challenges that we all face. I think the planet we live on demands respect, dignity and we each should have a sense of responsibility embedded into is. We’re being terribly careless if that is not the case. I understand that we live busy lives but with this, we must think long term. We’ve learned that decisions we make today can change the outcome of tomorrow and this is true too with the climate but on a much larger scale.

We all know that Trump has done a lot of things since coming into office early this year. But one thing that really upset me was the change in direction of dealings with climate. I felt this was an insult to everyone and especially to the idea of progress. It was also an insult to the people behind the previous findings, the academics and those on the ground who had put years of research in on which to base past policies on. I’ve heard the idea that climate change is bad for business but really, it’s about adapting a new way of doing things in order to improve on the current mistakes being made.

Nature is beautiful and we are so rewarded by it each and every day. Think of the beautiful sights within your own land as well as those abroad and it’s clear to see that natural beauty is an extraordinary thing that doesn’t compare to man-made beauty. This is what we are conserving, the enjoyment of nature. We don’t want to take that simple and quaint joy away from future generations.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

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21 blog posts series know nine

21 blog posts series know nine

Nine: “Don’t apologise for your preferences”

This week NUI Galway held their annual societies awards ball. This is the first year of being on college that I didn’t have the pleasure of attending the event alongside friends that I’ve made and met through societies. Although I was a little saddened by this fact, it gave me the opportunity to reflect on what being in a society meant to me and the difference it made to those first two years in college. I realised how different things would be if I hadn’t have given my time to it in that way.

First of all, societies are wonderful things. Sure, they are known to involve heavy commitment which can be a challenge at times during college, but it being something that you love, it shouldn’t feel in any way like a chore. Societies in their essence should be inviting, welcoming and open to those who wish to be involved. This comes particularly true for first year students or those on Erasmus or an international study abroad, trying to find their feet in college through the platform of societies.

Truly, societies within their structure and place in college show us that nobody should apologise for their particular preference, no matter how mainstream or very particular it is. NUI Galway welcomes new societies each year and often they’re something completely different to the 100+ that exist already. From my experience, societies open doors and pathways to new friendships that you probably never imagined.

As I write this, in Dublin this evening, the national inter-varsity student poetry slam is taking place in NCAD. When I came to college, I had written a few poems and mostly they had never gone further than a drawer in my bedroom. It was only when I came to college that I realised I wasn’t alone in the solitary act of writing. Skip forward some time, I was competing in this national poetry slam which was something entirely new to me with an original poem of my own. (I link here for those interested: https://cathyinconversation.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/a-political-poem/).

These niche interest we  might have can often go under the radar during secondary school times which can be a shame. But I think for the most part college brings with it a new confidence and sense of freedom that can be enriched through taking part in societies. Whether it be dance, drama, anime, film, debating, fashion – these are unique interests that can really come to life and be celebrated during the college years and I don’t think these interests are too likely to fade after the gown and cap are given back.

I don’t think we need to justify to ourselves or anybody else why we have the interests we do and why we give it our time, it’s simply just something we do as an all important form of self expression. I can give dozens of reasons why being involved in societies was good for me from the friends I made to the unique events we ran together and the new connections even outside of college that were made.

But it’s more important to say to those who aren’t involved in societies in college, I can put my hand on my heart and say that you are missing out. Even if you only start by going to the odd college event, it’s important to challenge yourself to get somewhat out of your comfort zone or college dorm. There’s so much happening and it’s easy to see the hard work that each society is putting in in order to make sure something good is up and running for students to take part in. So seriously, the next time the weekly email comes in telling you what’s happening in the world of societies this week, don’t place it in the trash or skip on – give it the glance and a half it deserves. You could pleasantly surprise yourself.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

A Message Amidst Madness Series: Dealing with Changing Times.

By Cathy Lee

Ireland is a place for decisive and divisive referenda.

The Divorce referendum of 1996 and of course The Marriage referendum of just last year come to mind.

Call me biased, but these all happened in my lifetime.

Last week the Literary and Debating Society in NUI Galway held a debate on whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment of the constitution.

This of course is topical as it has been raised as an election issue currently, with some politicians showing their true colours as is to be expected.

But some politicians have been giving mixed messages about their stance on the matter.

About a year ago a Fine Gael TD claimed that he himself was pro-life in his stance but would agree with the need for his party to call a referendum on repealing the 8th and legalising abortion.

The term that first comes to mind during this time is “uncertainty” in these changing times.

We can’t be certain what’s to happen and what really defines “progress and change” to Irish politicians.

What is good for the country moving forward versus the sincerity in the views of Irish politicians seems to be an issue.

The government changed legislation in 2013 to make abortion accessible on the grounds of when a woman is showing signs of being suicidal.

Pro-Life campaigners were unhappy with this legislation and Galway representative for this campaign told me she’d like to see this legislation changed back to the way it was before 2013.

Although this legislation passed, you take the example of the “Ms Y” case of the same year (that is still ongoing) where the woman in question claimed to be suicidal and was still not able to access her own wishes to abort the foetus who had been conceived through rape.

Pro-Choice campaigners would prefer to have the 8th amendment of the constitution just be deleted and therefore avoiding any confusion around matters of defining whether a woman is sincere or not etc.

Deleted is a key word to this, as phrasing is so important when trying to convince the general public of complex views.

Last month national radio station NewsTalk launched their conversation campaign around Election 2016.

Their phrasing really struck me.

Their slogan was “Time to terminate the 8th?” with a photograph of a 6 month baby scan.

I couldn’t believe that this campaign was spread across the main billboard in my small home town.

(Just 100 metres away from the Catholic church too I might add).

We can experience bias when it comes to these referenda when we are presented with a fogged view of the reality.

When speaking to a local county councillor at home in Wicklow, he explained that a campaign to repeal the 8th would be certainly harder to achieve than other referenda.

With the “Yes Equality” campaign running up until last May, there were positive stories to tell about couples finding love and wishing to marry.

With abortion, often the stories are highly sensitive and not always positive.

But it also makes you wonder where all the losers on the side of these referenda go?

Do they just disappear off the radar when their views aren’t the majority?

Do those who voted “No” in the Marriage referendum boycott same-sex weddings or those who said “No” to divorce just force wedding rings back onto fingers now?

I understand everyone is entitled to their opinions and moral views on these topics, but it just get to wondering where is the future and will it actually facilitate everyone?

The conversation must be opened more instead of one side shunning the other’s views out.

Compromise is key in my view for this debate.