Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Time Is Now. Speak.

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BY ABBY MAC

 

Something exciting happened.  Something very exciting.  I was published on www.mamamia.com.au.  Some of you might not find that as exciting as you thought it was going to be, nonetheless, it was a big deal for me and if you want to read the article (WHICH YOU WILL.  THERE’S NO CHOICE) you can click on this link –

http://www.mamamia.com.au/mamamia-cares/woman-biggest-risk-factor-domestic-violence/

For those of you who haven’t read the post, yet, I will quickly summarise it.   In support of my Mum, I frequently work with her local Zonta Club (an international women’s organization dedicated to aiding women worldwide) for various events and causes.  One of the events was a united walk to advocate ending violence against women.   The event has been and gone, very successfully I might add, however, just because this is the case, it doesn’t mean that conversation should end on domestic violence or my article is no longer relevant.

No in different languages.

“No” means the same thing. Whatever language you speak.

My article, though intended to create awareness for the walk, was based upon providing voices to the women, men and children who are silenced due to domestic violence.  I questioned the value in just walking and how that could possibly stop domestic violence.  The truth is, it didn’t.  But, that wasn’t the reason behind walking.  We walked to show a support network of women and men who were calling on political, social and cultural change to the epidemic that domestic violence is.  We were the people that may not have had the abilities to change laws or authoritative practice, but we were and will continue to be the people who had a voice and decided to get up and use it.  Like we all should.

Using your voice shouldn’t just be limited to domestic violence.  Anything.  Use it for anything you’re passionate about and where horrible wrongs must be ended. I often hear people complaining that they don’t know how to make change.  They haven’t got the resources, public profile or time to try and be heard, they say.  That may be true.  But, what they do have is undeniably the biggest asset one could possess and that is right to their voice.  Unlike the victims of domestic violence, they aren’t being silenced.  The only thing stopping them, or you, is all the reasons which you concoct in your mind to not do something.

A couple of nights ago, I watched a documentary named Girl Rising (http://www.girlrising.com/), which I must say is the most moving and emotional films I have watched.  It shows stories of nine girls who have been empowered or want to be empowered with education.  One of the most startling and incredible facts I learnt is that providing a girl with an education is one of the most rewarding (economically, physically, socially) investments that an individual, government or country can make.  I think that’s quite amazing.

Girl Rising.

Girl Rising.

Listening to both the horrific and heart-warming stories of these girls aged from seven to 15, what I learnt is that these girls were born into countries where they have been subject to evil acts and silenced whether it be due to culture, religion, threats of violence, rape or death, lack of or no education or seemingly no resources to be heard and yet, these girls and many more of them, are speaking out and being listened to.  I sit in Australia, a country rich in resources, where free speech is encouraged, you can be heard in so many mediums from social media to a democratic political stage and yet too many of us sit in silence, or we limit our opinions or desire for change to the dining room table.  Well, to put in bluntly, how very weak, cowardly and just wrong is that of us.  We have education.  We have knowledge.  And we have a voice.

So, get up and use it.

What are you passionate about?  How are you promoting or making change?

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The Day I Listened to the Great Bindi Irwin.

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BY ABBY MAC

A week or so ago I went along to something called the National Young Leader’s Day.  I would like to tell you it was only a very select group of people who were invited to attend, however, there were around 1600 kids, just from one city, aging between 6 and 17.  So, it was basically a free for all. In essence, it was a day where around six speakers came and spoke to 1600 kids about the ways to be a good leader and what they can do in society to keep being a leader.  I met some really nice people and the speakers were pretty good, so all in all, it seemed as though it was a successful day.  Apart from one thing.  Apart from the treatment and reaction of Bindi Irwin, one of the six speakers.

For all of those who don’t know Bindi Irwin, she is a 15 girl, born into a family passionate about wildlife and conservation.  I don’t like to think of Bindi in just this way, but she is the daughter of the Late Steve Irwin, and he has definitely helped create and nurture her love of wildlife.  And endless list of awards are also included in her incredible achievements, however, I think what is more important, is Bindi’s ability and dedication to thinking about topics which people typically believe are beyond someone of this age.  In particular, Bindi is thinking and working through, over-human population.

Bindi

Miss Bindi Irwin.

I know.  I’d briefly thought of over-human population before, but, I’d never considered the causes, impacts or solutions to such a serious level and how vast and seemingly uncontrollable this issue is –  which is also seriously hurting our world.  When Bindi spoke at this conference, she was passionate and knew her facts.  Her knowledge was endless and unlike many people these days – particularly youths – she was dedicated to a cause greater than herself or something to help herself.

Bindi spoke of an essay that she was asked to write for Hillary Clinton’s e-journal about her views on conservation and she primarily linked conservation to over-human population.  An aspect which I remember is the analogy she made between over-human population and too many guests at a party.

She asked you to imagine if you had invited 15 friends to your house for a party and you had prepared 15 party bags, food and drink for 15 and only had enough space in your room for 15 people and then 70 people arrived.  How are you meant to cater for this extra 55 people when you don’t have the resources to support them?

A lady that Bindi knew lived for 104 years and during that time she had seem the world grow in population by 5.5 billion.  5.5 billion.  So, Bindi states that if the world only started or was intended to hold a certain amount of people, just like her hypothetical party, how is it still catering – equally – for these people today?  And, as Bindi puts it, this crisis is what Mother Earth is having to deal with, presently.

It’s a good question.  It’s a really good question.  I have thought about it and though it’s not my own greatest passion, I really believe that something must be done to conserve our planet and all its incredible attributes – flora, fauna, food, water and its people.  And, I am thankful that we have someone like Bindi Irwin, at only 15, who is caring about something as important and urgent as over-human population.

But, the leaders at the National Young Leader’s Day did not see this.  They saw a 15 year old girl trying, really trying, to talk about something delicate and crucial – and it just didn’t seem right to them.  I don’t know whether Bindi has been coached to speak publically or it was just her immense amount of passion, but she did seem over-enthusiastic.  To some, it seemed a little bit fake.  To me, it was passion.  When people asked her a question, she always answered “that’s a really good question.”  Some saw that as condescension.  I saw it as politeness.  She then made the fatal mistake of calling someone “love” to which this arena has erupted in disgusting sniggers.   Our future leaders.  Bindi handled it perfectly by commenting – “oh! Sorry!  I do sound like an 86 year-old woman, sometimes!”  And then that comment also received those little judgemental high school laughs and eye-balling.

I am Somebody

I am Somebody. The Banner for National Young Leader’s Day.

People walked out after her (amazing) speech, mimicking her, gossiping about her and didn’t even bring up the fact that she had STUMBLED UPON A REALLY IMPORTANT GLOBAL ISSUE THAT WOULD IMPACT THEM BUT SHE WAS TRYING TO FIX IT, FOR THEM. No.  They didn’t notice that, did they?  They didn’t thank her for taking the time out to talk to them, to try to inspire them. In fact, these leaders walked out as judgemental teenagers who claimed to dislike her because she was condescending but honestly, it was because someone possibly years younger than them was thinking about something more complex than the Snapchat which they didn’t get enough time to look at.  They were jealous because she was confident in herself and was making a difference in the world.

And, this annoyed me.  It annoyed me on the day, and if you can’t tell now, it’s still annoying me now.  Okay, so Bindi may have been over-excited but that is not something that she should change.  What needs to be changed is this culture that teens breed into themselves that for someone to be over-excited, passionate or thinking about something beyond mundane life, that it is laughable.  It’s not.  It’s great.  And, it’s time the whole world appreciated that.

Do you know someone or are you like Bindi?  How did you or others react?  What topics are you passionate about?