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 take ten

21 blog posts take ten

Ten: “Learning from mentors, appreciating wisdom”

I’m learning to drive at the moment and I now see exactly what all the fuss is about. You hear about the trying times and the challenges it brings along and I get that totally. You’re placed in control of a machine that has potential to be very powerful and it’s not something you should take on lightly. But I will say, when you’re learning to drive to make sure that you’re surrounded by those you trust when you’re in the car. Be this the instructor, family members or friends. These people are forms of mentors and rightly demand the respect that experience brings in these situations.

Sometimes it’s better to shut your own inexperienced mouth and listen to what the other person has to say, but I will say don’t be a robot. It’s about striking the balance of self trust between taking on the instructions of others. Appreciate the fact that skills take time to learn and practise is very much key, a little reward or two is fine as well during this time. So the point being that I would see my driving instructor as something of a mentor to me, but I’ve come to realise that mentors and wisdom can come from many sources, not just your elders or those with a certain skill set.

Everyone can possess wisdom and I feel it’s something very disrespectful to doubt the thoughts and ideas of a person just because they’re younger than you. Sure, young people are trying to find their feet and place in an ever changing world but really, it’s not your job to make that task even harder by placing doubt in their abilities. I think wisdom comes from understanding, and each and everyone’s youth is something that was involved in that process.

Alongside appreciating the worth of youth, is respecting the place of the wisdom age brings with it. With this I would say, place value on the time you spend with older people. The stories they can have of their past lives and challenges they faced can be something truly fascinating. No matter how highly or lowly educated these people are, they’ll possess knowledge of things that you really wouldn’t think.

It just takes a little bit of time to dig this information out. But once you dedicate yourself to doing just that, it can really be something eye opening. The most important thing when it comes to this is how indeed you can apply this wisdom into your own life. The past generations had some good ideas and qualities and of course I know that times have and are changing, but it doesn’t mean that this way of life be completely lost.

For the most part anyway, we all love our grandparents and we cherish the fact that we are lucky to have them around. Show that you respect that fact and give your free time to sit down and lend them an ear. It doesn’t have to all be stories from way back when, you can throw in some of your own as well. The best way to start a dialogue is to simply freely open it. This can be something truly rewarding.

I attended a family reunion last month which had over 160 attendees of relatives from near and far. Looking around the room at happy faces it could be seen how although everyone lives separate lives, there was a respect and honestly about the room as everyone wanted to listen to one another and just simply share a joke or an old story.

This is something we should place value on. These stories get passed down through generations for a reason and I think we all have a part to play in keeping this alive.

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

21 blog posts series seven

21 blog posts series seven

Seven: “Appreciating the lessons of history”

They say that history has a habit of repeating itself. Of course I’d agree with that to a certain point, but some things are and should be allowed to be fresh and unique in their own way as new ideas and trends come into the way we live. Without doubt, there’s a lot we can learn from history and I think it serves its purpose in that sense and should be studied and taken seriously with a high level of respect and dignity.

Context is essential for looking at history, before we make our own judgement based on that time versus the way we are now. A couple of years back, I looked into the concept of historical revisionism, something truly different in the way we look back at history. Although revisionism is very much heavy critical thinking for the most part, it’s something that makes us think deeper about a time instead of just accepting whatever it is we hear, in the way history is written about. I actually posted that study to my blog if you fancy reading it here for a bit more understanding: https://cathyinconversation.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/a-look-to-historical-revisionism-commemorations-and-1916-ireland/.

Now, recently someone told me that having a history degree is something unique and special, providing a better and more profound world view. Doing a degree in something I understand can open your mind to independent and different thoughts around an era and of course is highly academic, but I don’t think it’s essential that everyone have a degree in order to appreciate and learn from history.

Getting back to history repeating itself; originally, I found that concept a very scary thing. That mistakes could be made again and even the sense that humans never learn. Could that be the case? I know for sure that that world view isn’t the best for us in general. But I think that if we all kept our eyes on history, potentially we could avoid this repetition and even stand in the way of allowing history to repeat itself when it comes to the things we dislike or are uncomfortable with. If we all gave history the time and respect it deserved, we could all lend a hand in spotting things in politics and even socially that feel a little too close for comfort, that we may have seen before historically.

History has shaped how we live and who we are, that fact can’t be denied. To really understand the present and look to the future, the past is as important as any other contributing factor. Quick thinking and irrational decisions really stand out historically and can be spotted fairly easily.

I went to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam recently and it was something I’d always been drawn to seeing obviously because of the mark the Holocaust and World War II made in our history as a people. The heartache of the innocent and the wrong of the powerful, those ideas stick. Being in the house itself felt solemn and I will admit that some parts of it brought up emotions in the pure sense of wrong and the desperation of this family who had their world turned upside-down.

A particularly interesting part of the tour was at the end though when everyone was invited to sit and watch a stream of comments from previous visitors and admirers of Anne Frank’s story. The message hit home that this cannot and should not be let happen again. The idea of history repeating itself was stuck in my mind that day. We hear a lot in the world’s media about changes to immigration laws, the strife of refugees and just a lot of underlying unrest with the rise of right wing politics that people don’t necessarily voice publicly.

I think looking to history might help us contemplate better the time we’re currently facing. I watched some of Martin McGuinness’s funeral last week, attended by those of opposing views as well as family, friends and admirers. Really, I had never seen such a positive farewell in the form of a service. I do firmly believe hatred can be conquered and if we don’t try to do so, each and every day – we are doing our history a disservice.

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