Category Archives: education

Invisible People

via Daily Prompt: Invisible

Back in 2014 the UNHCR worked with addsoftheworld.com to produce an add campaign to bring awareness to the world of the plight of refugees. This particular add was in South Korea.

When I think of refugees I think of the pain of deprivation, hunger, illness, the loss of family, jobs, homes, savings, experiencing poverty, vulnerability, insecurity and the indiffernce of those around them. The grief must be almost crushing, the devastation of loss and change too difficult to contemplate. They are at the mercy of others.

I don’t think of political positioning – is this a leftist issue, or is it liberalism, or whatever? I find politics merely clouds the issue and becomes a smokescreen for ignorance, fear and prejudice. Politics automatically takes a view, a position, and is usually founded on suspicion, even racism. Politics grounds its power in fear and looks for control. Instead I think of the person. If we don’t consider the person, we only ever view them as objects through the political prism, and they become invisble to us as people, and become sub-human, pawns in a political game.

If we burned every flag, removed every national anthem, removed borders and the notion of sovereignty – would it change anything? (which is my preferred fantasy) Probably not as we are creatures that need to create niches, spaces, corners, and familiar places. We will always seek a corporate identity, a local sense of belonging. But just imagine, if we did achieve that level of complete freedom from fear, control and ownership, it might just change our thoughts about the stranger, the alien in the land. If there’s no sovereignty there’s nothing to protect, no line to defend, no one to exclude. Sadly, as documentaries such as ‘The Wave’, ‘Blue eyes, Brown Eyes’ and the ‘Stanford Experiment’ show, if we have power over someone we tend to become indifferent to their humanity.

However, I’m a little more hopeful than the documentary makers, because in the every day I meet wonderfully liberated people who surrender ego and power and see only people irrespective of race, tribe, religion, politics. There are wonderful people who desire to reach out and enable others to thrive. There are many who have given up on politics as an answer, but inhabit the political space in order to bring positive change, to help us be able to see that we are all part of the issue. There are the compassionate and those who seek the common good for all.

In an imperfect world, we can be the difference rather than the indifferent. The add campaign was a media success, though I have not yet discoverd if it was a success in reaching the people, but at least at one level it worked to address the issue of those who are invisible. The enduring question for me is, who am indifferent to and who can’t I see?

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under community, education, life, mindfulness, politics

Cleaning Up The Mess We Made

via Daily Prompt: Messy

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I see news bulletins or read an op ed piece and the sheer negative of the report overwhelms me. Some years ago I saw footage of plastic waste in the ocean and I had steam coming out of my ears. How could it come to this? Such a mess!

Boyan Slat, a young engineering student has one proposed solution to the problem. Slat encountered plastic in the Mediterranean Ocean and at 17 yrs began working on a solution to plastic polution in the ocean. We’ve all seen the shocking footage of marine life snarled in plastic, or the photos of granular plastic which makes the sand look coloured. But Slat has at least put his mind to it. Of course, his proposal has attracted both support and criticism. He has raised in excess of 27 million US for his company –  Ocean Cleanup, but some in the scientific community have pooh-pooed the idea because it is yet untested in the wild. However, some criticism has come from those who believe that we should be working solely on prevention.

There will will always be a need for constructive criticism especially in testing and peer reviewing scientic work, but I wish that the opinionated people who haven’t a clue would butt out. It would be nice to live in a world where prevention was the sole effort in anything, but on the face of it, our track record as a species is that prevention is hard won. I don’t work in binaries if I can help it, and my prefernece is to use both prevention and reactive solutions together. Besides, I’m a born skeptic in regard to the human condition, and I believe that even with prevention methods, we would still have a problem of plastic in the ocean. Some polution is just by negligence or accident.

Even if this doesn’t work, at least he’s tried, and I applaud that. We will soon find out as the company are set to deploy this year. For me, this is a positive step, and the scientific community have been engaged in a new way forward to resolving a mess of our own making. And in my view, a step forward invites more.

Paul,

pvcann.com

19 Comments

Filed under beach, boats, community, education, environment, life, nature, Science

Courage Under Fire

via Daily Prompt: Courage

Malala_Yousafzai_2015.jpg

Photo: UK Department for International Development.

There are many stories of courage throughout history. Wartime in particular seems to courageous people to the fore. Those who fought in the resistance groups during WW2, and individuals like Maximilian Kolbe https://pvcann.com/2017/10/18/brave/ , Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Nancy Wake, John Rabe, Oscar Schindler, and many, many more.

But more recently I have been moved by the courage of the young woman in the photo, Malala Yousafzai.

Most of you will know the story. Malala, born in Mingora in the Swat Valley in Pakistan in 1997, she became an advocate and an activist for womens education rights. She was inspired by her father’s humanitarian work, and Benazir Bhutto, as role models. She came up against the Taliban who were active in the Swat Valley, and who were banning girls from schools. She began writing a blog for teh BBC under a pseudonym and spoke out about her life under the Taliban. She came to prominence in the international media nad was interviewed by New York Times journalist Adam Ellick. And then Desmond Tutu nominated Malala for teh International Children’s Peace Prize.

Her prominence earned the anger of the Taliban who attempted to murder her. And she was shot on October 9, 2012 (yes it was that long ago) and survived, and with hopsital support in both Pakistan then England she made a full recovery. While being shot is never good, it did gain her international fame, which she immediately channelled into her activism for girls education in Pakistan. She set up a web site, continued to write and speak publicly, toured the world, did a TED talk (which is well worth taking the time to view), and set up a foundation called the Malala Fund where most of her award money is then distributed to education casuses across the world. she has shown a generosity in time, compassion and funding.

She has won over fifty international awards for her work for children’s education rights. And in October 2014 Malala was a joint recipient (with Kailash Satyarthi) of the Nobel Peace Prize (sad note here is that Malala is only the sixteenth female recipient, there are ninety male recipients).

She was courageous the moment she determined she wanted to persist in being educated, claiming that the terrorists did not want women to be educated because that would give them power. The moment she started to advocate and became a public activist in her own province and then started a blog, she was courageous, and on a collision course with the Taliban. And her fate was sealed when she gained international fame, and the Taliban decied to be rid of her. But she survived, and Malala continues to be courageous in her activism for the education of children, especially girls. She is doubly courageous, facing down the Taliban, but also the culture of patriarchy across the world that is still resistant to the rights of women, not least of all in education, in many parts of the world today (strange how far we haven’t come).

We need more Malalas, more courageous people to stand and turn the tide of injustice, but as she shows, it is simply sticking to what you beleive and setting out and doing it come what may (even the Taliban). One of Malala’s inspirations is Benazir Bhutto, mine is Malala.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under community, education, history, life, politics, self-development

Don’t Lecture Me!

via Daily Prompt: Lecture

when-you-need-help-people-give-you-the-one-thing-you-dont-need-a-lecture.jpg

Well, not if they’re good friends, and not if they’re excellent professionals in their field (counselling, medical, teaching …). Education has taken it’s own path in modern history from chalk and talk to interactive learning. TED Talks have offerd a variety of creative learning and engaging experiences through resentations that are more like a conversation than a lecture. While counselling has moved from directive processes to a person centered listening engagement. And parenting has, ever since PET and other more recent forms of parenting, moved from punishment based models to active listening and problem solving models. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa led the push for a restorative justice model known as the Truth and Reconcilaition Commission (as already used in Argentina, Nepal and El Salvador) rather than a lecture/punishment model so that people could be heard on both sides.

If I’ve messed up I really don’t need someone to state the obvious, I just need to be heard. If you can get to my feelings, to my core, if you can enable to express my feelings, I can move one, I can grow, I can change. If we deal with the affective we can effect change within.

If you want me to learn you need to do more than just expect me to transfer your learning to pages or folders as your notes stored by me. If you engage me in conversation, discussion and other ways of interractive learning, then I will retain and learn, because I can value you and your experience if I am in turn valued. I grow by observing and by engaging, discussing,  with others. And, learning helps rewire the brain! Lectures are static in the main, whereas discursive learning and engagement are dynamic and empowering, drawing from the well deep within ourselves. Engage me, don’t lecture me!

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under community, education, life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development