Click here to see the original post on my new blog, ‘The Daily Owl’! Leader of the opposition Ed Miliband has today drawn criticism for reportedly, ’roundly booing’ his nieces Year 3 production of ‘Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat’. The … Continue reading
As my sister stumbled into breakfast this morning with her head held low, my heart sank. I knew what it meant, she knew that I knew what it meant. We both avoided eye contact, sat down and finished our cereal in silence.
This morning in the UK, hundreds of thousands of eager/nervous/excited/self-assured 18 year-old’s received the results of their A-Level public examinations. One exam had gone terribly wrong for my sister. In fairness, everybody who knows her and her entire school population seems to believe a mistake has been made, so she may well be fine. But others won’t be.
The way that we are conditioned to believe in examinations, the importance of higher education, leads the opening of an email one morning… one second in time, to change your life forever. From a world full of hope and opportunity to nothing.
This is a huge shame.
Yet exams are important – this is the desperate thing. In billions of years of development, exams are the best way that human beings have found to measure themselves against one another.
This, again is a shame. The issue is not in the exams themselves, but in the huge bias that people seem to put on them.
It leaves many people in the situation of having an infinitely more difficult journey to finding success.
You can decide for yourselves the importance of a university degree, but I would ask that you do this: The next time you speak to somebody and find that they have not been to university, ask yourself, ‘I am judging this person?’. The answer is almost always, yes. Heck, even I do it, and I haven’t been to university myself.
To my sister and all those others out there. Don’t despair, there are many many ways to succeed, university is just one of them.
In order to truly find the best in society, we need to look beyond traditional education, beyond financial means beyond color, language, race. Success in a government standardised test isn’t the only measure of success and ability. Don’t trick yourself into thinking it is.
By the same token, those who have gained great results today, I applaud you. As I am currently finding, when it comes to the job market, it is going to make your life a hell of a lot easier!
Since the Gulf War in 1990 and continuing through Operation Desert Storm in 1998 and the Iraq War in 2003, many people in the West have become desensitized to the extent of the suffering – the reality of the humanity – of the people of Iraq.
Frequently, we saw news stories showing the deaths of Western soldiers and gasped at the terrible infidel insurgents who had inflicted this terrible fate.
We passed over the fact that, in the mortar strikes and drone bombings which led up to the fatal attacks, hundreds of Iraqi civilians had been killed.
In fact, when the US and the rest of the NATO troops left Iraq in 2011 over 110,000 civilians had been killed in the crossfire of the war.
To us, with frequent media coverage of the terrors of the Iraqi insurgents and their constant alienation, many didn’t think twice about these deaths, many, dare I say, celebrated them as a Western victory over terror.
In recent weeks, Brandon Stanton, creator of the immensely popular blog, Humans of New York, has recently, on behalf of the United Nations, visited Iraq as part of a tour around the world.
He has continued his traditional photographing style – approach the person, smile and ask to take their picture, He then interviews them, and posts the photo, as long as a selected phrase from the interview on his blog.
The significance of him going to Iraq is in the lack of change he has made. He interviews people in the same way and talks to them the way he would a fellow American.
There are bad people in Iraq, bad people who have caused huge problems. There are bad people in the USA, bad people in England, bad people in China and Chile and Sweden.
There are also good people. Brandon Stanton and Humans of New York has given a rare Western insight into the people of Iraq, people who face the same problems as us. Normal people, good people.
Thank you, Brandon Stanton and Humans of New York.
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Just after 9pm, as the plane rose majestically over the gently twinkling lights of Los Angeles, I was gone. I have many wonderful memories of LA and a few bad ones. It felt rather like the pilot of a TV series – a character gets so close to his ultimate goal, before being ejected – or, in my case, ejetted (actually, no – terrible pun, disregard) and having to start all the way from the beginning.
Of course, that wasn’t quite how it transpired, but it’s been 3 days, so my rose tinted spectacles are beginning to grow. For me, simply getting to Los Angeles felt like a huge achievement – like I was almost there – but in reality, I was as far away as ever.
I am forced to accept that a having a large body of work is rather like having a large head of hair. Inherently worthless but, for some, a lucky few, it can take them places.
So now, I get to start my own personal version of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, although, from what I hear, there is only likely to be one ladder, and apparently, there are many, many snakes.
So this is from where I will re-start this blog. A re-boot, if you will. From a dingy flat in London, I will endeavour to cross back over the pond.
First I need to get a job. I am currently living on borrowed time (isn’t that the best kind of time? No. Profoundly no), and need to find a job, which is my current quest.
So the dream is still alive. Somehow. Us Brits aren’t notoriously good dreamers, but hey, breaking the mould is something I… would someday like to be able to do… 😛
Thank you again, everybody for reading! I hope I can continue to more than just hold your attention for the length of a post, I hope I can (Insert when relevant – beguile, intrigue, entertain, mesmerise, confound, confuddle, etc!).
Have a wonderful day!