Our Contradictions

1 10 2013

I am starting to find the world a much bigger contradiction that I originally thought and I honestly believe university is corrupting me.

I should explain.

Higher education is one of the most confusing chapters in my life so far that I have had to face with. As a freshman, I believed that by entering college I would gain the knowledge I needed to accomplish two ultimate goals: a) to live life fully and b) to change the world.

Unfortunately, I am no longer that naive freshman. I have come to realize that life is filled with contradictions and there is really no way to have your cake and eat it too.

You see, I am starting to get the notion that you can’t ‘live life to the fullest’ ( or YOLO* or whatever) and change the world at the same time. They are contradicting. I suppose if you set the parameters for the argument then you can say that in order to live your life to the fullest and change the world at the same time, you must set a goal for yourself. Then we come to the complicated idea of a ‘goal’.

In theory, having a goal is not all that complex a concept. You set a goal, take the necessary actions to achieve it, review it over time and set your goals again. For example, let’s say you wanted to step on the moon, you would study physics ( I’m assuming), get physically fit, apply to a space program so that you can be an astronaut and semi-gravity defying steps on the moon. Fairly simple concept.

However, the problem with people is that they have more than one goal and it gets even complicated when these goals contradict. What if I like to surf and I wanted to save the whales but the only way for me to ensure the whales safety in a specific bay, I would need to stop surfing. It may appear like a trivial matter but humans ( us) take our goals and passions seriously. We form emotional attachments to them and there lies the conflict. Our emotional attachments get in the way of us doing what we want in life. Things get more complicated when everyone in the world wants to take action to achieve their own goals.

Some may say these contradictions make life interesting. Sure, it does but it doesn’t mean life is any less confusing. Can we achieve everything we want without contradicting the different outcomes of the goals or the values we hold?

May be I’m thinking too much.

May be I’m being too ambitious.

I hope you find the conflicts in your life and effectively untangle them. Try. Be innovative. Be conscious and be aware.

* I really hate the term YOLO but I am putting it in for cultural reference


Beach Cleaning: The Good and The Bad

25 09 2013


Dear World

Last week, my course-mates and I went beach cleaning as part of a module requirement. With that being said, I am pretty sure most of us wanted to go beach cleaning anyways so we were all pretty excited. During the activity we collected 28 bags of garbage that weighed 230kg. I think that is pretty decent work for only being at the site for an hour.

Anyways, I made a few observations about the activity and noticed that may be, beach cleaning might not be the most effective activity or as good as people perceive. Don’t get me wrong! Cleaning beaches has many benefits such as maintain habitats for wildlife, preventing leaks of poisonous material into the environment and obviously, for aesthetic reasons as well ( we have to make our coast look pretty enough for ecotourism … or may be just plain tourism). In addition, with the recording system official beach cleaning organisations require, we can track how much trash is actually floating around the oceans and eventually end up on our shorelines. Sounds like a good functioning system!

Unfortunately, beach cleaning in theory has many great benefits to the environment and to society. In practice, many concerns come up, mainly to do with human tendencies or so I have noticed. For example, sometimes the people involved in beach cleaning are not necessarily strong enough to carry full bags of trash and therefore use less space in garbage bags and more bags themselves. This makes beach cleaning data more deceiving. While we tried to compile 2-3 half filled bags into one bag, other groups of people may not do the same skewing the results of the data collected,

Another observation I made was that cleaners are selective of what they pick up. While I understand that sometimes some pieces of Styrofoam or plastic are harder to remove use to obstacles that are not necessarily easy to overcome ( e.g. a fallen tree, thick forestation or potentially coming into contact with poisonous or sharp torn), I have noticed that sometimes the most obvious pieces of trash are easily ignored. This could be due to a few reasons; firstly, our group was filled with young people who are adventurous and ambitious( yes, even when it comes to collecting trash). People were ducking and climbing into the mangroves to collect trash that were the furthest to reach. Others when far from shore and into the muddy middle ground between ocean and land. We ignored the obvious when we should have realized any piece of trash picked up would have been beneficial to the ultimate goal: cleaning the beach.

These observations of my cohort should not be considered as generalizations. They are merely meant for people who would do beach cleaning in the future to consider your actions during the activity.  Beach cleaning still has its benefits and volunteers are always welcomed.

The ultimate lesson from the experience is that, really, beach cleaning should not be our first option for protecting our coast. If we want a better coastline, we need to stop the cause the root of the problem; we need to limit our waste and stop using our ocean as bottomless pit for trash.

I hope everyone takes part in beach cleaning though. It is still a very eye opening experience.

Take Care!