Graffiti can be a fantastic resource for those who – by circumstance of choice – are isolated from mainstream artistic expression. People can make virtually any (legally or not) public space the canvas of their message or expression. Equally its target of criticism can be the very building, which a graffiti artist uses to display their message. However, all too often, it can be merely a manifestation of nothing except somebody’s attempt at immortality or being noticed. I’m referring to the mindboggling concept of tagging one’s own name. Athens is no exception to this phenomenon and in many ways it’s an exemplar of this inane form of self-expression.
Arriving in Athens has left me startled due to its derelict appearance. I don’t use the word Necropolis here in a conventional sense of death. I instead wish to use it to describe the atmosphere of ruined buildings and dilapidated shop fronts, which are tagged with the names of any disenfranchised person armed with spray-paint and nothing worthwhile to say! It’s staggeringly bleak and dammingly deprived, a meager twenty-minute walk from the Acropolis…and yet, there is a tragic beauty in it all!
Einstein famously postulated that ‘a person starts to live when he can live outside himself’. In theory, this is a very true and intuitive statement. In practical terms though, it seems a rather impossible one – to not follow. Surely, we rarely exist within ourselves long past the initial stages of life.
Why – as a species – are we so obsessed with the protection of the status quo? I’ve been too busy to blog recently as a return to work after the holidays has proven hectic. However, it has given me ample time to reflect on my role as an (somewhat reluctant) enforcer of the status quo – a teacher. Through school, we ensure that children are kept occupied spending – at least – two-thirds of their waking childhoods consuming skills and facts integral to becoming a ‘productive’ part of society.
It’s become a cliché to remark on the friendly demeanour of the Irish and as an Irishman, a statement that I’ve always contested. Not with any kind of vehement hatred but more an understanding that friendly and hostile people exist in equal measure everywhere – you sometimes just have to find them! However, in my most recent homecoming, I’ve found there is a lot of truth to the stereotype.
The recent political protests in Romania have really got me thinking about the way that we elect leaders. In a matter of days a number of peaceful protests topple more and more politicians, beginning with the Prime Minister himself! Perhaps, it’s got me thinking, we should rethink the way that politicians are elected. We should make it more people-centred. How about a reality TV show?
An insight into the hypocrisy of adulthood.
You tell me to share as you clutch your purse tighter when a dirty, homeless hand reaches out.
You tell me to get along with others as you build the fence with the neighbours higher.
You tell me to use my words as you throw the hammer when it hurts your hand.
You tell me never to lie as you tell Mom that the wind broke her favourite dog figurine.
You tell me to be polite and kind as you swear at other drivers on the motorway.
You tell me to respect my teachers and elders as you call your boss stupid and ignore Grandpa’s phone calls.
You tell me that violence is never the answer as you say how important the war on terror is.
You tell me a lot of things a child must do. How old do I need to be so I don’t need to do any of these things anymore?
How can we hope for better from those who come after us if we never show them?
Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik
It seems quite tragic that society is incapable of empathy or understanding without being shocked and shamed into having some. The death of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi was a dark and tragic event. And a completely avoidable one if Europe took the same attitude towards Syrian refugees that the US government took towards European refugees in the years following WWII.
But Europe doesn’t – or more correctly – didn’t until there was a young boy’s face buried, cold and bloated, in the sands of the Mediterranean. He now joins the 2,500 other estimated dead refugees martyred before Europe has finally decided to value humanity over petty boarder controls.
Is blogging a way of publically expressing yourself in lieu of a more traditional form, such as a diary? I’ve written before about the nature of blogging and what blogging has done to the written word. However, the more I blog – I’ve recently had my two year anniversary on WordPress – the more I feel like it’s become some form of literary and public form of writing down thoughts and feelings.
Can religion and education ever truly live symbiotically? I’m working again at a school with a strong Catholic Ethos and it also values knowledge and education. But, by definition, religion is built on ‘faith’ a concept whereby you unquestionably believe in what you are told. Whereas education is built on inquiring and probing the status quo in order to increase knowledge. Similarly, religion has tradition at its foundations while education is founded on innovation. Therefore, does it stand that both are fundamentally conflicting?