My Open Letter To Today’s Humanity

Hello. I need to address your behaviour towards my generation. You’ve got to stop treating people like this.
You’ve got to stop scrolling past the people who need you and ignoring everyone crying out for help. Stop waiting until its too late to tell people you love  them, ask for forgiveness. Your kids need to hear it. Stop ignoring us and then judging the people who try to deal with the consequences alone. How can you judge people who stick to their own company when being with others only reminds them of the constant fear of rejection? How can you scoff at teenagers sexually active or involved in drugs and alcohol when underlying is a craving to connect which no one else is offering? How dare you write off kids with bad marks as stupid when nobody is bothered taking the time out of their day to sit with them and explain? How to write a beautiful essay or decipher a math equation does not come preloaded into a child’s brain, neither does it adequately display their talent, yet we continue to attempt to confine it to questions on a page with an answer.
We are your responsibility. We are responsible for each other, and yet all we’re given is a glance over, shallow smiles. No wonder we turn to cheap thrills- we don’t know where else to turn to! Hearts of gold grow dusty and tarnished.

We educate ourselves on these problems- we can see them coming from a mile off, and sometimes we can even see the solution. But we aren’t given the opportunity or the tools to solved these problems. This overwhelming loneliness despite so much “social media”. The sense we’re not good enough in amongst all the trials and tests. The idea that we’re not beautiful, strong, independent enough – that we’re just not enough. We don’t have the confidence to fix ourselves in an environments that only breeds hatred, fear and self loathing which leads to discrimination, ignorance, societal issues. We can see but we can’t touch. The problem is not out there but in here. If we had any sense of our own self worth – true self worth, not the shit peddled by our media, mixed in with sexualization and stereotypes – then we could get somewhere. If we loved ourselves we could love others.

I see a generation that is on its knees underwater and if we had the strength to stand up, or if someone pulled up to our feet, maybe we’d be less in danger of drowning.

Help, humanity.

Sincerely,
Patty Agree.

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Sublime

The most beautiful thing that I’ve ever seen was a few years ago, when I was about twelve or thirteen and I was at a friend’s house in Bendalong. It was freezing at night, and we were just sitting about inside when her father came into the house and insisted we venture into the darkness. Holding hands and foolishly forgetting our jackets, we stumbled onto the gravel drive way and then looked up, and above us were a million stars. Even more so. They glimmered and winked proudly as we admired in awe, craning our necks and suddenly forgetting that we were cold. I didn’t feel a thing.

I live in the city, so on a good night I’ll get a glimpse of a handful of stars struggling through the smog. Although I’ve travelled and seen quite a few amazing things, that was the one that springs to mind when I attempt to conjure what has truly affected me. And it’s different to seeing something in a photograph, or someone’s painting. Looking up that night, the stars that I could see were not the stars that perhaps Vincent Van Gogh saw. Or perhaps my mind just doesn’t work the same way. But there was a sense, I must say, that these were no one’s stars but mine, and they will always be my stars.Gardens: stars

Porn

I disagree with porn. I don’t understand why people watch it and it saddens me that it is becoming increasingly popular, amongst both boys and girls. As to why, there are basically three reasons.

First- porn creates unrealistic expectations. People have begun to attempt to live up to the expectations of the pornography they watch. We’re shaving places that have never been shaved before, and trying new things in the bedroom, which I can recognise isn’t always a bad thing. However, the polished world of porn is severely affecting the way in which sex is viewed and people as sexual objects are seen in society. It encourages this mentality of seeing people for their sex appeal first, and perhaps stops other, deeper connections as we are being trained to look at someone for how they may perform in the bedroom. And this mentality, from the growing pornography industry, has seeped into so many parts of our lives. Sex sells, and so the media has caught on. Magazines advertise how to please your partner in the bedroom, ads sport women scantily clad, and even the news tabloids are telling us who is hot and who is not. Pornography has gone from the ideal to what is beginning to be expected as it becomes steadily ingrained in our society as the norm. And we just can’t keep living up to those expectations. So many stories came out after the release of Fifty Shades of Grey of BDSM gone wrong, and if you don’t want to have sex, for instance before marriage, or you’re asexual, then that, in our highly sexualised society, is wrong and weird.

Secondly, the mentality around pornography makes it seem like sex is the most important thing, yet completely degrades its beauty. Sex was created as a good thing-  humans and, weirdly, dolphins, are the only animals that have sex for fun. Yet where is the need for human interaction when you can get the same satisfaction from sitting in front of a computer screen? It frustrates me that we can market this as just another way to have fun, desensitising us to the true pleasure that could come from it. Pornography comes cheap, sometimes even free, and completely cuts out the concept of slowly growing closer to someone before pleasuring them and gaining pleasure from them through that physical connection. Although it can be used as a tool to get people started, how can it not be a bad thing that porn is seen by some people as necessary to get them going? Where is the effort that leads to the satisfaction? You might as well be going for a run, or brushing your teeth. Giving into a base need instead of exercising the control that could make the experience so much better- waiting until you’re in a relationship, and come to the point where you want to experience that in a deeper way- is pretending that sex is just another way of getting pleasure, and getting rid of what truly makes it special.

Thirdly, there are the morals around the industry. So often the people in porn are coerced into it. Yes, there is the totally mutually consensual film that is easily accessed and, indeed, often distributed by the actors. However, often it is also created using people who didn’t know they were being filmed, or didn’t want to be. A part of the porn industry is also the illegal use of minors and sex slaves. And by supporting pornography overall, you are essentially encouraging the people who will put anyone in harm’s way to make a dollar from something that people clearly want to view.

So, porn. I don’t get it. I don’t get why so many people participate in it, or why they think it’s fine. There’s a stigma around it, and for once, I actually understand that- maybe the generations before us recognised that, like hiring a prostitute just to get that climax, pornography is making sex just a cheap kick instead of a deep, meaningful interaction.

Rules

There is a lot of stigma around religion as a set of rules that one has to follow. I’ve touched on this before, but recently the message became poignant to me as a friend asked how a loving God could force upon us these rules and reject those who do not live up to their standards even if they are impossible to follow. In short, we all screw up, and surely He realises that? You know, I think it’s also a misconception that Christians are naïve and usually following in the steps of those that have gone before them blindly, unquestioning. That too, is false.

In the Bible, there was a man called Job and he called out to God after a lot of suffering, questioning how such terrible things could happen to him when he’d done nothing wrong. Similarly, Jesus calls out on the cross, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Today, many Christians around the world, whether openly or in everyday life persecuted, echo that cry. As humans, we question. As humans, also, we were created in the image of God. Therefore, this curiosity paired with the ability to logically think, solve problems and therefore decide the difference between right and wrong is God given. If so, then the first thing to understand is that God is open to questions because he gave us the ability and predisposition to ask them. A child, at its most innocent, will ask questions [the fact goes that the average toddler asks 240 questions a day- this varies from site to site- however, may just be the amalgamation of frustrated parents] and throw a tantrum when they don’t believe something is fair, or when they are hurt. God not only recognises this, but he can deal with it. Therefore, continue asking and continue recognising when you don’t think something is fair.

However, I think the realisation most people who continue to be Christians come to is that life, while it may not always be fair, isn’t God’s fault. The one Bible verse that continues to clinch it for me is 1 Corinthians 10:23. [If you’ve got questions about life, and where everything fits, start with 1 Corinthians.] The verse says that while everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial. Therefore, do what you want. That’s fine. But a loving God made rules and boundaries so that you would experience the life he created to the full. Like a parent who stops their child from touching fire- that would be a new experience, sure, but unnecessarily painful, and why learn from it when you’ve got someone who knows more than you telling you not to? Rules aren’t always bad. We have laws to tell us what to do and what not to do, and some are obvious, like “do not kill”, even if there may be a really good reason to. We are rational beings, and sometimes believe murder is rational, but when the deed is done, is it? And so the law deems no, and whatever the circumstances, will still punish murder. So it is with God.
We’re free beings, with free will, and that’s fine. If you don’t want the laws God has laid out, and think you can do life alone, that is fine. If you don’t want God, that is fine too. It hurts him, but he’s not going to strike you with lightning and scream at you from the heavens. He just quietly follows, always ready for us to turn around and run into his arms. That is a loving God. The rules are from a loving God, and if you realise you can’t do it alone- don’t have the strength to, or the wisdom- then he made a rule book you can turn to. One with rules on love, and life, and every area of life, such as finance. Those rules are hard to follow, but Christianity says in the end they make life easier. And if you screw up, that’s fine too. God forgives. That’s the message of Christianity- God forgives. He knows we screw up as much as we do. He doesn’t punish us for it, although our actions have consequences. He just says that the rules are the rules. Either do them, or don’t. It’s just His belief, and Christianity’s belief that your life will be better if you do.

Therefore, God is loving.
The rules are there out of love.
Take them or leave them.

I choose to take them.

The Love Song of Us

Don’t dismiss the messages of old as ones meant for those in times gone by. Don’t ignore the warnings of the writers and poets who were trying to communicate something to the wide audience of humanity. Humanity has not changed all that much. And so, when I look at men such as T.S. Eliot and the men he created, such as J. Alfred Prufrock, all I can hear is the blaring scream of this is you, and you must fix this. One of my favourite poems, and, indeed, one I believe is potent to society, is the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

In the room women come and go, talking of Michelangelo.

In a world where we have access to almost every piece of canvas that has had paint touched to its skin, to every scrap of paper that has met the nib of a pen, how can we simply glance over someone’s life work and label it “nice”? The mentality of Instagram- to scroll past images that flash before our eyes only long enough for our brain to determine whether they are worth a like. Is it so that we cannot comprehend such beauty, as it is so overpowering, that we find ways in which we can condense it to a single image? We cannot absorb the landscapes that call sublimity, we cannot gather the focus to examine the detail of true beauty, and so we snap it, post it, like it, scroll. A never ending world of pictures is at our fingertips, and so we rely on that to tell us what is happening outside our very window. Anesthetise the senses, because it’s all too much to deal with.

There will be time, there will be time, to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.

Social media- a medium where you can present only the face that you’ve, like a piece of fabric, applied the correct filter to. Cropped out what is not meant to be there, in order for your life to be perfect. Rubbed out any imperfections, spent hours on making up a mask to present to a community that will spend three seconds judging it before they continue on. How much time do we spent preparing our face? How much do we think people will judge us by it? Apparently it takes a tenth of a second to judge whether you trust someone, your entire relationship with them. So we must present our very best face. Not a hair out of place. And where do we take this time from? What else could we do with the hours we spend painstakingly crafting an eyebrow?

Do I dare Disturb the universe?

Do I dare disturb my friends and tell them I am not okay?
Do I dare disturb my teachers and tell them I am struggling?
Do I dare disturb the ebb and flow of my life to make a decision that may or may not go well?
After all, it mayn’t. Indeed, I shouldn’t. I should just continue living life the way it is. That is easier, after all. I shall continue wishing that someone asks me how I am, knowing full well if they did I’d say fine. I shall continue to play my role as a cog in life, hoping that I can continue knowing full well I am breaking into fragments slowly, and when I do crack, the life I know will come tumbling around me. Because I do not dare.

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter.

For, if we do turn to a greater power to offer us some solace, we are faced with a great Silence, whom we soon turn from. The effort of giving all to life is much belittled by the fear of giving all to a god. As humanity, are we not scared that, although it is clear we cannot do what we wish with our life, giving it over to someone else will be oh so much worse? Our life is ours to live, to choose and to screw up. Do not consider the alternatives, friend, for surely this is the best way? Surely, to fast, to pray, will lead to nothing. We cannot face our own spirituality because we are stemmed by the inherent rebellious belief that it will lead to nowhere and is therefore not worth the time or energy it would take, indeed if it saves us time or energy in the end. We are fine. Well, we are not fine. But we are finer than we would be if we left it to God.

And would it have been worth it after all…

Would it? Will I ever know? For I did not do. And now I wonder, would it have been worth it after all?

If one, settling a pillow by her head, should say “that is not what I meant at all; that is not it, at all.”

To be dismissed by those we trusted with the most potent gift we could offer- our thoughts. For, our thoughts determine the matter of our hearts, and our hearts are what we aim most to protect. Therefore, to give our thoughts- phwoar. To be dismissed by our peers should we offer a thought- to be tossed aside by our friends if we were to utter an opinion- oh, to be shunned by our parents lest we disappoint them with the thoughts clouding our minds? Why is it that public speaking scares so many so? Because you are being asked to look people in the eye and present your beliefs. And a roll of the eye, the crossing of arms, are blows to not only our ego, but everything we are, for if you dismiss my head, you dismiss my heart, and my being. And so, perhaps it’s better to stay quiet. Speak without saying in case one is to hear without listening.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

We deny ourselves the simplest pleasures for fear of looking foolish. Wear uncomfortable clothes because the others do not fit the criteria. Avoid desserts because they will make us fat. Refuse to laugh because we are acutely aware, perhaps due to a flippant comment, perhaps due to our preconceptions of the audience to which we constantly perform, of how we are perceived. We must exercise control. A certain smile is acceptable, certain jokes in certain companies. How do I look? How do you think I look? It does not matter if I wish to eat a peach, but rather, do I dare accept the consequences of what may occur if I indulge?

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they will sing to me.

For, at the end of the day, is this not what we consider? That we are not worth it. We do not wish to express our feelings or thoughts because we do not think we are worth the time it takes to listen. We stay with people who put us down because that is all we deserve, and we reject compliments when they come because we cannot believe they were true. We are not worth the attention of even mermaids- they will stop singing when we go by, as our friends stop talking when we enter the room. How has our generation deteriorated so? Surely, with the consistent reassurance of people literally “liking” us, and taking the time to “comment” and “share” what we’ve said, we should be at the very least able to believe that, amongst the amount of friends we have, some of them must be legitimate? But we cannot allow ourselves to believe such things lest we be proven wrong. To hope and fall is worse than to not hope and, perhaps, one day, fly. Isn’t it?

Poem copied from : http://www.bartleby.com/198/1.html

Jealousy

Jealousy is detrimental to both sides.
On one side, it is the admittance that you don’t trust someone. Although they are dating you, you wish for more reassurance than they can possibly give, because as much as they say they love you, it doesn’t matter. As much as they have given you, there is still a little part of you that doesn’t trust them, given the opportunity, to betray you. That’s what jealousy, at its heart is. The flutter of anxiety or anger when you know they see someone more than you, or when they post a photo with another friend, or when they engage in activities that you perceive unacceptable- too intimate. And we don’t address this, allowing people to feed their jealous tendencies. And so, one person suffers. But they cause others to suffer too, because, on the other side of jealousy is another person.
That other person is suddenly in a position where they don’t want to harm the one they love, so they stop doing things. Even if they know they are capable of not engaging in anything, and know the feelings they have, they are suddenly stopped from even being in those situations just in case. Jealousy denies the benefit of the doubt. Jealousy puts pressure on people to perform more than they should have to, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. And that’s not fair.

We glorify jealousy as a sign of love. How flattering that he gets over protective of you when you go out. Our male protagonists get jealous, and our male singers [eg, Nick Jonas] sing about how it’s unavoidable because they’re “in love” and not just controlling. Because there are these little hints- and it happens in friendships, as well as in romantic relationships- that the jealous person, no matter what they say, are just not okay with it. And that distrust builds.

Jealousy isn’t fair and shouldn’t be encouraged. I just don’t get it.

Trials

I haven’t written on here in a while, and that’s really just been because my entire life has been absorbed in Trials. That’s right, a capital T for some of the most testing trials [it’s in the name itself] of my entire life. The HSC trials, to be specific.

For two weeks of the average Australian teenager’s life, they find themselves sucked into what is built up to be the most stressful time of their past twelve years of school career. I say built up because really, there’s nothing so stressful about the experience itself- we’ve done tests before- but it’s something about the way the name is whispered, as if, like Voldemort, just uttering the title will bring something bad upon you. Well, they certainly swooped upon us, and, like a poor Potter child, we were all left crying and scarred.

I think we give the Trials too much power. We say that these are meant to be preparing us for the great big High School Certificate at the end of the year, and spend weeks building up to it and preparing for it. We’re given official plastic sleeves and notifications and told the specifics of the water bottles we’re allowed to carry with us. When you’re outside, your nerves get frazzled by the constant buzz of revision and the pity of teachers and passers-by, and this further screws you over because when you actually walk into the hall, you’re met with an eerie silence which alerts your brain that something is wrong. The calm before the storm.   You sit down, and have to fill in a slip a certain way, craning your neck to peer at a date scrawled on a white board ten metres away with a marker that should have been retired long ago, and there’s this overwhelming feeling that you’re going to screw up somehow, and the thing hasn’t even started yet. Then the solid pressure for three hours, because, as a teenager, you’ve somehow developed the energy, concentration and knowledge to last you three hours of solid writing for days in a row.
Then there’s the hype afterwards. Did you get what I got? Did you say what I said? Am I going to fail life? And you get your marks back, and people try to reassure you, saying you can get better- no, you must get better.

Stress. Pressure. Freak out.

However, I came to a realisation [thankfully before the entire thing began]. It went against everything I’d been told about the Trials, and was a bit of a shock, but I continue to stand by it.
This doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. What marks you get, don’t matter. Consider.
Why are we in school? To get educated.
Why are we getting educated? Why is that important? Why do so many people advocate for wider education for everyone? Because we need to learn about the world around us to improve it. From a deeper perspective, we want to learn about the world around us because it’s intricate and beautiful and deserves studying, but everything we’re learning in school is meant to make our world a little better, right? The accountants to make people money to ensure they’re comfortable. The social workers to help people who need it, the teachers to educate the next generation, the cooks to help people who are sick of eating junk because they’re afraid of burning the house down. A test barely scratches the surface of why we go to school. And that’s why marks don’t matter. Because, if you learned what you were meant to learn at school, then it did its job, no matter how someone marks it. And I’ve learned what I’m meant to learn at school.

I learned how to make friends. I gained a bit of confidence. I learned science, and the history of our world, and where I want it to go. I learned what I’m good at and developed those skills. And that can’t be concentrated into an essay, I’m afraid.

Marks are good because they’ll help us get tertiary education, yea, but there are plenty of ways to do that. Plenty of ways to get into uni to get a career. Plenty of ways to get a career without uni. But consider why you’re getting educated, and realise that a lot of the impact it has had on you can’t be measured. Recognise the person you have become after thirteen years in a rigorous education system, even if you hated every second of it. Marks aren’t important.

There is a life outside school, and a lot of us are looking forward to it. Do the best you can, because the feeling of accomplishment will be exhilarating, and don’t leave with regrets. But at the end of the day, no matter what you got, recognise that it doesn’t matter, because you left school with something much more important than a number.