I think entering my last year has really kicked my mind into overdrive as I’m frantically trying to figure out how to go forward from here. I only fully began to incorporate conscious thinking into my life since going to University. To me, it means getting out of the comfort bubble of your own little world and opening yourself up to the wider world and all that is going on. My aim was to stop shutting myself off from everything that doesn’t immediately affect me; and this is what I’ve been doing to change that.
We’re students and we’re all strapped for cash, and as much as we wish we could give and give all the time, we still need to finance our own lives and it’s just not viable. But that doesn’t mean we can’t give in other ways; Portswood is full of charity shops that are always in desperate need of volunteers if you can sacrifice a few hours or so a week. Or you can sign up to monthly donations to almost any given charity that you really support and it’ll take it directly out of your account so you don’t need to faff around with coins.
The best thing I’ve ever done to help raise money for good causes is definitely via joining our RAG society. My fundraising adventure began with jailbreak in first year, and then it followed on with day trips to shake buckets in Bristol and London – I actually lost my voice once from trying to get donations; yay for everyone else. The whole experience has been nothing but incredibly positive and all for such worthy causes. There’s no insane amount of commitment to the society either, you can just take part however much you can or want to.
Please don’t roll your eyes just yet. Yes, unsurprisingly, conscious thinking covers the way we treat animals, I mean how can it not. Me personally, I grew up as a vegetarian and never had meat until I was a teenager – shocking right? But recently after watching a few PETA videos I had to question why it was that I ate any meat in the first place. I love vegetarian meals, so the transition back to vegetarian has been smooth. In fairness this won’t represent everyone’s experience, since I’ve always been a fail of a meat-eater, only occasionally having chicken and fish.
But even if you don’t want to stop eating meat, and I completely get why, there are still other ways to be conscious of what cruelties are subjected towards animals. Like watching out you don’t buy cosmetic products that are tested on animals – cough *Nivea* cough. And of course there’s the most obvious of things, not wearing clothing made from animals. I mean in all seriousness, who actually needs a fur coat?
Now I won’t even try to pretend I am some kind of expert on the science of what is happening to the world but one thing that is undeniable apparent, is that this place is looking so much worse for wear thanks to humanity. And no, Donald Trump is very wrong, China did not create global warming. It’s a very real thing happening.
We all know what individual things we can do to improve this, but ultimately decisions need to be made on a governmental and global level for real change to happen. I gave my vote to the Green Party last general election; not because of a deluded belief that I thought they could legitimately get elected. I just wanted to cast my vote with the policies I truly believe need to take priority.
My actual hope was that the major parties like Tories and Labour would look at the polls and see the rise in votes for green policies; making them feel it necessary to adapt some of their own policies for the catchment of those voters. Obviously this time it had little effect, as UKIP took the limelight on increased votes. But sooner or later these environmental issues are going to extremely pressing on everyone’s mind. I just hope it’s sooner because I want our beautiful planet to still be beautiful in generations to come.
Politics is my obsession nowadays but I remember a time when I couldn’t care less. When I started to grow up I realised just how incredibly important these systems are to our survival as a race. The lack of young people interested or partaking in politics makes sense to me. Nothing really entices us to pay any interest to it at school or even in the media. But it also makes sense that this massively needs to change. After all, Brexit taught us that it is us and our children, who have to live with the consequences of these decisions. Let’s just pray that the American youth learn from the error of our ways, and get involved on the 8th November.
But it’s not just western politics that I’ve opened my eyes to, the University offers a few UOSM modules based on the Arab World and I eagerly signed on. It was the best decision, and it sparked a huge interest in me; and so I even spent my summer reading about the Arab Spring and came back for another module on the topic. The West and Middle East divide is impacting the world enormously and unfortunately what is causing the most damage, is Western ignorance. The same ignorance can be seen in the defiance of the USA Black Lives Matter movement.
Instead of trying to dominate issues of race, religion and culture from a position of privilege, power and fear; we should be standing back, listening to those whose voices need to be heard. Let them lead their own discourse and let us follow and support and for once not control.
Although it’s tempting and very doable to go through life not caring or giving any of these issues a second thought, I don’t want to live like that. I want to feel passionate and fight for causes I believe in. I want to see progression in society whilst I’m alive. I want to care; because if we all didn’t care, then nothing would ever get done. I’m not going to sit by waiting for something to happen in my little bubble to make me change; the least I or anyone else should be, is aware.
Thinking consciously is difficult and I’m by no means perfect at it; there are still so many aspects of the world that I need to educate myself on and probably still so many things I am very ignorant to – But I’m 20 years old, about to finish my degree, and I’m looking towards the future I want to have and the person I want to be; and it all starts with the willingness to try.