A NEW DECADE OF DIVISION OR HOPE?
A new year. A new decade. The year 2020.
The new year often brings around an opportunity for a new beginning, a chance to try your hand at something new or revisit something from the past. It can be a time to fix broken friendships or relationships, and to create new ones. However, it can also provide us with a new opportunity to stand up and take notice of things. And that is what I wish to write about in this post. Let me start by stating that I am by no means a saint, but as I get older, I’m learning and understanding much more about the person I want to be and the example I’d like to set for others around me. I think as you get older, you start thinking and reflecting on certain elements of life much more, and that is what I am trying to do.
I’ve started this new year really struggling to accept just why we are always at loggerheads with each other. The start to the new year has really made me stop and think more than before. Is this what the world is now becoming? Are we destined to continue down this path of hostility and of division? Of selfishness and neglect for others?
There seems to be so much causing division between us all at the moment, both on a national but also global scale. We appear to be living in a world where the desire for more power, for more money, for more ‘stuff’, or for being the ‘best’ at any expense is far more important than how we treat one another. How has this become acceptable? It feels like we are living in a society where we only focus and care about ourselves as individuals. Where we only care about profit and materialistic possessions.. This is prevalent on many different levels and extremes. We seem to always be thinking only about things that bring benefits for ourselves, rather than considering the wider world and what might benefit others as well, or what we can do to help other people and not just ourselves.
I have been very fortunate so far in my life to travel to different countries across a few continents and seen with my own eyes how other people live. I’ve shared in their cultures. I have seen slums in Africa. I have spent days in Himalayan mountains. I have spent time with locals away from the tourist spots, living like a local would. I have met some incredible people along the way – both locals and fellow travellers. There is one thing in particular that I have seen on my travels and also heard back from others – and that is that people with the least give and share the most. Back home, I’ve realised that we have built up a society that believes that life is not measured by kindness, or by how we treat others, but by wealth and fortune and that should not be the case. I firmly believe that we need to stop this greedy approach to life. If we do, then I really believe that we can really begin to live harmoniously with everyone no matter people’s backgrounds, circumstances or situation. We can learn to be hospitable to everyone, learn to look after and care for others even if they’re complete strangers. We can find a way to get rid of these barriers that stop us from being a society of togetherness , of equality and loyalty and a society that has genuine and honest acts of kindness at it core.
Me and one of our trekking guides in Nepal
This year, I’m really trying to stop and look around me more, to notice other people, to be kind to everyone, whoever they might be. Living in London, the world is whizzing past you so fast, it is incredibly hard to keep up! Every morning people will barge past you to get on the train first, their day seemingly far more important than yours. People being impatient while waiting in line or walking along the pavement rushing to get past. Simple things. Sometimes it feels easier to just join them, but we have to try not too. I get the feeling that we are all becoming far too selfish and self-absorbed. We’re forgetting to appreciate and respect others around us. Forgetting to celebrate people’s differences and obscurities. Forgetting to simply look around and acknowledge one another. To talk to one another. To listen to one another. We are constantly judging each other over insignificances. We have this need to constantly judge and critique people for their interests, opinions, their beliefs, or even shockingly for the way they look. It’s a tiresome act. We all need to learn to appreciate one another. To enjoy the differences between us. You can learn so much from someone completely different to yourself. Someone from a different background, with different interests and life experiences. Life is a journey of learning and developing. We should all want to continuously learn and widen our understanding and appreciation of the world around us.
As a photographer which is my main career, I’ve been thinking a lot at the start of this year as to what I want to achieve with that. And the answer came fairly easily to me – I want to use my photography to make a difference, and so that is what I am trying to work towards this year and beyond. I have a dream that one day I will be able to use my photography skills to tell other people’s stories. To share those stories with the world for better. To let the world know that they too have a dream of their own, whatever that might be.
Photo credit: Marcus Samperi
The hustle and bustle of central London
At the start of 2020, we have Australia burning, we have animals going extinct, we have refugees and civil wars, we have poverty, we have an environmental crisis and more, and yet what seems to be important to people is making divisions between us, both at home and abroad. We all need to step up and do more for each other and more for the world. Share with each other. Look after each other. Celebrate each other. The world doesn’t have to be a rough place. I know there are great people doing amazing things, and there are amazing places to visit with inspiring stories to tell. If we all decided to just get along no matter your background, your social class, your place of birth we could all come together as one and do truly miraculous things!
At the end of the day, we are all from the same race – the one called the Human race. So why fight each other? Why have conflicts of any sort whether global conflicts or just conflicts with our own individual lives with people? Why treat others with distain or dishonesty? Why are we all trying to out do one another at times when we should becoming together? Why don’t we instead try to treat everyone as equal, to work together, to live harmoniously, to share and care, and ultimately to showcase all the positives of the human race! We’ve put people on the moon, we’ve found cures to deadly diseases, we’ve invented music, literature and film and so much more! There are already people out there doing incredible things with their lives. In fact there are plenty of people far better at it than me! I’m at the start of understanding and learning – and what I can say is thank god for those people who are already doing good because without them, where would we be?
So this year, lets all try (me included because I myself haven’t always been as good as I should have been at this) to do something to make someones else’s life better and happier. It can be a friend, a family member or a complete stranger. Stop and buy a homeless person a bottle of water or a coffee. Volunteer for a charity that has meaning to you. Donate to a food bank. Help someone without the expectation of something in return. Lets try live a life where we acknowledge and talk, where we help one another, where we support one another, where we get along purely because we are all humans, all living together on this diverse planet together. Let’s put aside the boundaries of race, of religion and class that cause so much division between us. Treat others equal. Respect beliefs and opinions. Remember it’s never too late to be kind to someone.
There are some incredible people out there, already stepping up to make the world a better place for everyone. Lets all try be more like them. Lets take inspiration from each other. When we are going about our daily lives, lets not get so wrapped up in them that we forget about the millions of people living in refugee camps around the world, or the homeless living on the streets, or the 663 million children living in poverty across the world, lets do our best to be environmentally conscious. There is a lyric in a Jamie Cullum song that I recently discovered – the line goes – “Cause everybody’s fighting battles that you don’t know anything about” – and it is so on point. We are all dealing with issues within our own lives, whatever they might be, it doesn’t matter. So lets remember that lyric and treat people with kindness and thoughtfulness because we never really know what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ in peoples lives, and your actions, your words, no matter how great or small, could help someone enormously and probably mean more to them than you realise.
Lets all do our best in 2020 and beyond to make this world a better place not just for ourselves, but for the future generations that will need to live together in the future.
My good friend and one of my Everest Base Camp trekking companions is doing a half marathon is aid of ‘Shelter’. Shelter help homeless people or those on the brink of homelessness – you can find out more and donate here.