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Raise Your Voice

October1

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One day. Ten speakers. Three pledges.

Yesterday evening my vision expanded. I felt the corners of my creativity stretching out to new heights. I saw passion and positive potential collide. The Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence has now launched a Youth Council and our induction evening took place last night at The House of Lords. Words fail to express my excitement that I get to play a part in a movement that will make a difference.

Domestic violence is an issue which has been deemed as taboo for far too long. It is not a matter to be hushed up and discounted as a private problem. It is not simply the affair of the victim but it is the responsibility of society. Let us not get so consumed by what we as individual humans must do that we forget our duty to humanity. The statistics are staggering: over two women per week are killed by current or ex-partners, one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. However, these numbers should not intimidate us but they should ignite us – fuel us in our fight to end the atrocity.

I was in awe at the way so many inspirational figures – varying from lawyers to university lecturers – were eager to empower us young people. They saw a light in us, and because of that, we burned brighter. And we will continue to burn until our light illuminates the dark reality of domestic violence. We learnt about the issue from different and insightful perspectives; the corporate world, the legal aspects, the Middle East and the policing agenda. Not to forget the input and impromptu performance of the amazing Jahméne Douglas – former X Factor runner-up and Youth Ambassador for WomensAid.

The Youth Council are in a unique position to start raising awareness; educating and engaging young people. It is the youth that will forge the future and carve out what is to come; the destiny which awaits the world will dance to the beat of our drums.

I made three pledges last night and writing this blog is my first step to fulfilling them:

1. I will be vocal – unafraid to speak out about my pursuit to end domestic violence.
2. I will try to educate as many people as possible about it.
3. I will never again underestimate the power that lies within me – that lies within all of us – to provoke change.

The founder of EDV, Baroness Scotland QC, is someone whose ability to inspire is timeless. Her ground-breaking achievements leave me speechless. She raised her voice when she embarked on this journey to eliminate domestic violence. I too, alongside an amazing group of young people have started to raise mine and I want to encourage everyone to do so. Raise your voice until silence about what is wrong and what is a crime, is an unknown notion.

Disrupting Disillusionment

September17

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Revolution is just a redefinition away.

With the imminent Scottish referendum – due to take place tomorrow – I can’t help but question whether 16 -17 year olds will actually participate. With so many distractions and diversions, the occupation of education, trying to figure out what on earth we want to do in the future, struggles with identity and insecurity, what place does politics have in our lives?

The word “politics” in itself has the ability to trigger an array of reactions. Some instantly envision the Houses of Parliament, some contend that it’s all a game of power whilst others think of economics and pensions. It’s easy to fall into a state of apathy and indifference when your idea of politics is defined by external influences. If someone paints you a picture, you can either accept it or discard it; resulting in this divide between those who are supposedly politically active and those who are deemed to be disengaged – and more importantly, disenchanted. But what about creating your own picture? What about moulding and shaping your own image of what politics is? It needn’t be limited to elections, parties and voting booths. Take hold of the creativity and innovation that is unique to you.

For me, politics is about engaging with society, it’s about justice and representation. It is about voicing the unspoken and unveiling what is “taboo”. However, it’s also the way I argue with my sister that Timberlake and not Bieber is the better Justin. It’s convincing my Head of Year that plastic, orange chairs do not look good in the Sixth Form Centre, it’s communicating with my Nigerian grandmother and getting her to understand my British accent. Don’t shy away from the concept of politics because you only see it on this large, grand scale of trying to make possible what the world is calling impossible – whether that be world peace, a higher employment rate or social equality. These issues are of great importance but also take time to make politics personal; make it mean something to you as an individual. Redefine it completely.

Once we break down the artificial presumptions of what politics is, we have more freedom to engage with it – regardless of the context. Everybody has something to say and no one can articulate your distinctive thoughts and opinions better than yourself. Our picture of politics needs to evolve. It is not one man holding a megaphone but a continuous conversation. It is not about winning a seat but about taking a stand.

An Everlasting Voice

November21

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24978685

Nelson Mandela is a universal icon of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. He is the epitome of unyielding determination. In light of the news of his declining health, so much that he is reportedly ‘still unable to speak’, I began to reflect on my gratitude that he did once speak up; he refused to remain silent about the racial injustice which surrounded him. He may have momentarily lost his ability to be vocal, nevertheless, he represents the voice of all those who rise up against the challenges of a dysfunctional society.

How many of us are saddened by horrific news stories, let out a despairing sigh and then flick over to our favourite channel; ready for some light-hearted humour, instantly forgetting the weight of reality. How many of us are so quick to criticise the problems of ‘Society Today’ but are so slow to act? I am…I was. And I regret to admit it. Those bursts of passion we feel when we know something is not right are sparks within us, and they are set alight for a reason. They should ignite that inherent quality in all of us, that feeling of invincibility that wants to ‘Change The World’. We must fuel our fire with perseverance and zeal and ward off the waves of fear and self-doubt which threaten to snuff it out.

We are in no way ‘Superheroes’; we don’t possess cloaks of invisibility, we can’t fly, nor can we read minds or teleport but we don’t need to be. The world is a masterpiece and we, as humanity, are the artists. We have the power to add colour to the dark shades of society. Paint red with love the houses that are filled with hatred, paint yellow with joy the places full of pessimism and paint blue with peace the corners of conflict. The world is in need of more voices, of those who will sing amidst the silence, dance amidst the stillness and shine amidst the darkness.

The song of the universe is not a one-part melody. It is a harmony.

N.B. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela who passed away on the 05/12/13, two weeks after I posted this. Your legacy lives on.

Go on, hold hands.

November1

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As I was sitting at the back of an auditorium, listening intently to the notices (or at least putting on my “intense listening face” whilst dreaming of what toppings to get on my Ice-Cream Sundae) a young girl, accompanied by her guardian came and sat next to me. She was both physically and mentally disabled but she instantly lit up the room with her smile and infectious laugh. She had this particular eagerness and curiosity about her: she was captivating. I had never seen nor spoken to this girl in my life but about ten minutes after her arrival, she reached out and held my hand. Now, I have no idea what was going through her mind when she did this and whether she intended it to have the sentimental value which I took from it. But all I know is, it touched me.  It was one of the sweetest things I have ever experienced.

I began to ponder on how great life would be if we all had her fearlessness; if we all said the things we’ve wanted to say and did the things we’ve wanted to do – irrespective of what people might think or how they may react. If we dared to be different, if we braved that bully, if we overcame those obstacles. There would be such an unquenchable spark of empowerment and fulfilment set alight in each of us. What is it about us humans that we restrict ourselves based on boundaries that only exist if we submit to them? It’s as if there’s this invisible force-field separating us from the person we truly want to be, labelled ‘SOCIETY’S PRESSURES’. Well, get out your light-sabres/your chainsaws/your swords…your magnets? (Awkward moment when you have no idea what destroys force-fields). Whatever it is, get it out and exterminate that wall.  There’s no way you can let what people think of you or their expectations define who you are.

If you love someone, tell them. If you want something, ask for it. If you have a dream, chase it.

Go on. Be fearless.  Hold the hand of thing you love. No, don’t just hold it, grab it! And never let go.

 

posted under I Dare You. | 1 Comment »

Epiphany

October25

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What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Epiphany’? Just the sound of it is somewhat fantastical. A moment of divine truth? An enlightenment? A shifted perspective? The scene should most certainly be encompassed by twinkling lights, angelic song and fairy dust. Your face will be magically illuminated at this precise moment of revelation (no one has a clue where this light comes from but hey ho, it doesn’t matter, you look like Aphrodite)…right? Wrong. Very wrong. My so-called “epiphany” came on a cramped and smelly tube on the London Underground. Twinkling lights? No, just the cheap, yellowy tint of artificial lighting. Angelic song? Nah, just the sound of an old man farting, hoping his straight face would keep others from noticing. Looking like Aphrodite? Far from it. My sudden outburst of tears left me with blotchy eyes and a runny nose, perhaps the resemblance of a bloated frog is the more fitting description. But did these grim realities take anything away from that unforgettable moment? Most certainly not.

Being a Londoner for seventeen years, you’d think I’d be thick-skinned and hard-hearted towards beggars by now. You see them in train stations and street corners all the time. But as this man walked onto the train, torn clothes and worn face, asking for money, the response (although it really shouldn’t by now) shocked me. Not one person looked up, people did not stir: he was completely ignored. It was as if his presence was non-existent and his cry for help was just an echo of the moving train. My heart broke. I could not believe the utter lack of compassion. As I gave the man some change, the condition of society began to dawn on me. I am in no way above it, I used to think this way and still do sometimes. But it has been ingrained into our minds that your career, money and power is what we should ultimately strive for in life. It’s not. What is the point in being the richest person in the universe if we cannot show kindness to our (metaphorical) brothers and sisters? Oh I know, it’s so cheesy…but it’s true. That man on the Tube was a human being, no different to any of us onlookers; he deserved to be noticed. If it was a celebrity that walked on, no doubt they would have the undivided attention of the whole carriage. Since when did fame and money determine the value of a person? We need to re-evaluate what really matters in life.

Love matters. Peace matters. Joy matters.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. Yes, speak up for the poor and the helpless, and see that they get justice”.

-          Proverbs 31:8-9

 


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