A Voice for the ‘Voiceless’

On Wednesday night I had a very interesting yet painful experience. I was unaware of this before coming to Ireland, but Ireland actually has an amendment protecting the rights of the unborn. It is beautifully written, and I wish I could be as proud of my country’s views on abortion as I could currently if I were Irish. Here is the amendment.

“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right”.

Boy… I would be proud if my country held this view in one of its amendments.

Regardless, sadly there will be a vote soon in Ireland, to repeal said amendment. Now my experience is not directly related to the standing or repeal of the amendment, but rather a vote for The Student’s Union of the University of Limerick to take a stand for the repeal, instead of keeping its current neutral stance.

During the meeting held for the vote, they allowed students to speak. One of the first students to speak was a Law Student from the Netherlands who first pointed out that with the current constitution of the Student’s Union, such a vote should not even be in consideration. It was really encouraging and cool to hear this student talk. He was of course acknowledging completely that he would not want his own personal beliefs to have a say in what the union should do, being an international student, but he called for the awareness that this vote is not about personal views, but rather if the student’s union should have any ability to take a stance and sway other’s. The Union’s Constitution reads:

“Aims and Objectives

  1. To advance the education of its members of the University of Limerick as a whole.
  2. To promote and actively pursue the betterment of the welfare of its members.
  3. To represent the interest of its members and act as a channel of communication in dealing with the University and other bodies.
  4. To promote, encourage and facilitate student Clubs and Societies equally.
  5. These aims and objects shall be practiced without discrimination on the grounds of age, sex, race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition, except that action may be taken to promote equality of opportunity.
  6. The Union shall practice the above aims and objectives independent of any political party or religious organisation.

He called into question how a union that is supposed to represent its members independent of any political party or religious organization could vote on a policy that would allow the student’s union to actively campaign against a “policy” many of the students hold, and how this is something that is directly tied to political agendas right now. His efforts to raise awareness of this were quickly suppressed by the faculty leading the meeting with a comment that most people hardly heard about it being okay and under approval via a private email conversation she had with authorities that she could not disclose. I kid you not… it was kinda weird.

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After this student spoke, I was greatly encouraged to hear many students express how even though their personal views are pro-choice, how they believe such a policy is contrary to the Union’s goals and is something that suppress people’s voices and opinions instead of actively seeking to hear them. Many also brought up the fact that how policy aside, it is the purpose of the student’s union to reflect the views of the students as a whole, and how although it might be a minority, their voice is still important, and neutrality is the policy that best reflects the student body as a whole.

But this is where the encouraging and uplifting took a turn for worse.

Many students stood up and rattled off a plethora of comments, obviously emotionally charged and agitated. A girl stood up and talked about how with the purpose of keeping the conversation open, it is better that the Union take a stance so that people will actually discuss the matter. Again… I kid you not. She was arguing that it is better for everyone and their views that the Union take a stance to actively campaign against other people’s views, because it will help stimulate conversation. Another girl stood up and almost mocked some of the previous speakers, by advocating that if this is a vote to represent the students, and students do not agree with this policy, that they should be here if they want a voice saying, “where are they?”. (This of course would be valid, if it weren’t for all the people in the audience who do hold that view and who did show up. To myself of course I was thinking… “right here Miss… right here… who are you arguing with if they weren’t”).

“Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable”
– George Orwell

The meeting slowed as they announced they would hear 3 more students. They took the vote by show of hands, and by 171 to 71, the vote passed. The Student’s Union at the University of Limerick, in the name of peoples’ rights and tolerance of other’s views, now will actively be campaigning an ideology that nearly a third of the university is against.

Walking away from the meeting I was struck with a lot of emotions and, to be honest, anger. How did this happen? How could a student’s union, filled with members who hold vastly different views but supposedly all respect each other’s freedom to have their own opinion, vote on a policy that will overturn neutrality? The Union is now actively engaged in a political agenda, in convincing other students and people that a certain view is the right one, instead of promoting an environment of openness and free discussion.

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You see… freedom wasn’t good enough for them. No… They screamed for conformity. Freedom takes effort and humility in order to respect someone else’s views and opinions and is also necessary in order to encourage a place of such openness. Hypocrites. While speaking about how they are perfectly fine with people who don’t share their opinion out of one side of their mouth, in the other they are rallying people to vote on a decision that would suppress other’s opinions and persuade everyone to agree with their own. They weren’t happy with being the ones responsible for convincing other people of their views… obviously… or else they would have just set up their own booth, their own material, their own funding, their own union for goodness sake, and realized it is up to them if they want to have other people share their view. No… they are cowards. Because instead of being a voice themselves in an environment where everyone is free to hold their own opinion, they held a small meeting (relatively) to rally the aid of the school to fight on their behalf, contrary to what the Union is even supposed to represent in the first place.

It is clear to me now. The tolerance they have of other people’s views ends immediately when they feel they might not have full control. See, its fine that you have your own views as long as they don’t conflict with mine as the majority. You can hold your own views, and I will respect them in the name of tolerance, as long as you are on your knees submissive in front of me.

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I couldn’t help but see this in the big picture as well. I mean the very reason I was there in the first place in because I believe in giving a voice to the voiceless, in standing up for the weak, and for protecting the innocent. I couldn’t help but see how the same ideology that fueled their argument was the exact same one that allows them to, with a smile on their faces, advocate for the “right” to murder the unborn child. Sadly, if this had been a vote to repeal the 8th amendment I would not have been surprised by the outcome. But remember this wasn’t even a vote about repealing the 8th amendment. No, the vote was on whether or not it should be the job of the public representative face of the students to tell other student’s they are wrong and persuade them to think and act a certain way that aligns with what they want. I mistakenly thought that was something everyone was against.

I would like to remind you that your freedom only goes so far as it does not intrude on someone else’s. In summary… the outcome was not freeing but enslaving. For because of the stance the Student’s Union now takes, there is a “right” view, and a “wrong” view, and God forbid you hold to the wrong one, because we just voted for the ability to convince you of just how “wrong” you are. Strong terms I know… but I do not take suppression of ideas and the mass murdering of the unborn lightly.

Oh, one last observation. I am thankful I went. It hit home to me how each of us really do have a voice. Every policy and law has probably always started with a group of people maybe even half that size, and then determined if it should be passed, by around the same number. We really do have a voice, and we really do need to take a stand. We can make a difference, and even though it was a simple vote for a Student’s Union in a country other than my own, the importance of it and similar decisions made hundreds of times around the world every day, really struck home to me.

I am sorry this wasn’t a more fun entertaining read about my time in Ireland, but this was on my heart and I felt the need to share. Maybe because I regret not speaking up in the audience (however I am sure no matter what was said would have changed anyone’s hearts… but that still isn’t something for me to decide)? My next post should be more about the land of Ireland and have a lot of green pictures and all, don’t worry. 😊

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A Voice for the ‘Voiceless’

Adventure and Self-Awareness

First off I would like to say a couple of things… I am not entirely sure where I am going with this post. “Why write it then”, you may ask? Because I am an external processor, recently engaged, who is primarily alone in a foreign country overseas for the first time and will remain there for the next 4 months.

I am studying abroad in Limerick, Ireland, for the next couple months. I will do my best to travel and keep Cody (my trusty Canon camera) busy, but even more importantly, take the time to think, read, and write (things that I felt had been nearly smothered out in the slipstreams of tornadic windstorms of my busy schedule (that is an inside joke for a few of my readers… don’t trouble yourself if you find the saying confusing… because it is)).

So to begin, here is a general overview of what my adventure to Ireland has looked like so far!

My Journey to Ireland

This is my first time ever traveling alone and it is safe to say I had enough unfortunate stories from my flights over here to cover for the rest of the trip. Knowing me, however, I expect there are still many, many more to come.

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Here is a quick list:

  • I forgot my earbuds and had to run all through the airport to find somewhere I could buy a pair from before my flight took off.
  • I found my main travel bag’s pull handle was completely stuck in, leaving me to have to lean over and pull it by a short little strap. (Very thankful for that strap though!)
  • My flight from Chicago to London was delayed three and a half hours. Of course this couldn’t have been determined before we sat down in our seats, so my seven and a half hour flight felt a lot more like a 10 or 11 hour flight. (After 45 minutes of sitting on the plane, the pilot informed us that mechanics were working on the plane trying to repair an air valve of sorts. An hour and a half later he informed us that they were just going to have to replace the part completely.)
  • After landing in London, the very minute my next flight was taking off to Ireland, I was mistakenly led to stand in the wrong line for the “transfer flight”.  (I only discovered this fact after waiting in line for 35 minutes)
  • After waiting in line for 5 minutes or so, I noticed my main camera and laptop bag felt oddly light. I soon realized I had left my laptop on the plane, making the rest of the 30 minutes standing in line that much more agonizing.
  • Being unable to connect to the Wi-Fi and no local cell reception, I attempted to use a payphone for about 15 minutes before I gave up. (I desperately needed to contact someone back home in order for them to notify the correct people in Ireland who were planning on picking me up)
  • Having my United States dollars exchanged to what they said I would need for Ireland… the pound. (This is of course was wrong, as the vast majority of Ireland uses the euro)

To finish the summary of my travels (because I realize a list of my mishaps actually turns out to be about 85% of the full story 😛 )… Praise God that the flight attendants were able to find and return my laptop to me, that I was finally able to find a cell card to contact back home, and that although it turned into having to be a 5 hour layover, my last flight went quite smoothly!

Upon Arrival

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I had a lot of respect for pilots… lets just say landing in this definitely boosted it even more.

After landing safely at the Shannon Airport, Stephen, originally just a friend of Erin’s, now also a good friend of mine, picked me up from the airport and graciously let me stay at his apartment for the first three nights until the university opened the student housing for the semester. There is a community church that my fiancee got connected to while she was in Ireland around three years ago. I am entirely indebted to the people of Elevate, especially their Pastor, who lovingly and sacrificially have cared for me upon my arrival.  Stephen was also the one to take me on my first adventure in Ireland to visit the nearby beautiful town of Nenagh (featured in “cover photo” of this post) as well as my first grocery trip (which for you travelers out there who understand, is critical. 🙂 )

Nenagh is a beautiful small town around 20 minutes outside of Limerick. Stephen was kind enough to drive me all around the surrounding countryside, stopping at a couple breathtaking vantage points, and taking a break in town for some food and visiting the ever so common… castle in the park. It’s ridiculous how common these things are, especially to the people here. I mean I knew they would be, but it is still so cool to actually see them scattered everywhere in real life. Again…  just kinda slaps you in the face with the reality of time and history.

One of the things I quickly have fallen in love with (albeit an agonizing sort of love) are the roads. Their age tangible, the scenery breathtaking, and the drive being a wonderful mix of anxiety and joy (much like a rollercoaster). Why I describe the love being agonizing, is the simple fact that I absolutely love to drive, yet have no real way of doing so. Not only this, but the vast majority of the country roads have these 3 foot high banks on either side, meaning that combined with the frightfully narrow width of the road, it feels like there would be literally no escape for anything on the road if you should happen upon it! Regardless, I love the joy of weaving through hilly green countryside of Ireland.

One thing I quickly learned about Ireland (compared to back home in Wisconsin) is that although the outside temperatures feel balmy compared to Wisconsin weather (and the locals will be vocal about the cold), upon entering a building and taking off the extra layers, your feet and fingers will be icy. The temperature that you just commented on as being mild mystically follows you everywhere. But this cold (that took me an incredibly long time to adjust to) “the locals” don’t mention at all or seem to mind! I found it quite odd! Many buildings are old and drafty, central heating is unheard of, and electrical heating is expensive, which mean that you can no longer have an easy and for sure way to escape the weather outside.

My Personal Experience So Far

I have been in Ireland for close to three weeks now, and I am starting to feel it in many different ways. I have had up days and down days with no particular reason for either. I haven’t experienced a tight bond or attachment of Ireland yet, but that is not to say that I have not appreciated a lot of the sights I have seen or the people I have met. I am not too good with expressing myself or my feelings very well over text, but I think using some simple bullet points to touch on many of the different feelings/emotions I have been experiencing would be beneficial for both of us!

  • I don’t feel lonely.
  • I don’t feel homesick… but I definitely do not feel at home here.
  • I have a better understanding as to how I experience things. I am not the type of extrovert that feeds off of people and energy at a party, or suffers in any way when not having that sort of socialization. That being said, however, I realize I really do experience things through the people around me, and without someone’s company, I quite literally do not have the same capacity for joy or sorrow.
  • Similar to the one above… I feel disconnected. By not having someone to be by my side, or a go to friend to hang out and talk with, I don’t feel as in tune with my surroundings or myself. Basically, I think I really do understand just what my extrovertedness means to me now.
  • I love photography, and I absolutely love all the opportunities to get out and grow as a photographer.
  • I have greatly enjoyed having an abundance of time to myself (some of my introverted side I guess). Finally reading for pleasure, writing random stuff (including finally another blog post), and simply to just…. think.
  • I absolutely hate the feeling of spending money without any income… It is actually one of the most painful things to me about being over here… I don’t know why exactly, but I guess I am just wired that way. Also it is incredibly frustrating to be agonizing over if I should buy and enjoy an amazing pizza, or just go home and cook some more eggs, only to turn around and find another required major expense (like a textbook, immigration pass, etc) that makes me feel like all those good decisions were a waste. lol. I know this isn’t supposed to be how I feel while living abroad and getting this amazing experience, but I can’t help it. Hopefully I will be able to work just even a couple hours a week soon… so that should be very calming and encouraging to me, and really help me to just relax and enjoy things better. 🙂

As you probably notice, many of these center around the idea of having someone with me to help experience things, grow, and savor every moment and memory. Also that I enjoy working but definitely need a balanced schedule. For me, these are all just reminders of just how excited I am for my return home and the start my life as a married man. I know this is a blog post about my Ireland experience, but a lot of it has just been eye opening to how much I love, appreciate, and really need Erin (my Fiancee). As much as I want to live in the moment and enjoy every ounce of Ireland, I simply acknowledge the fact that I am unable to do so to the same capacity as I could if Erin were with me. It’s how I am wired, it’s how God created me, and although it can make being alone in Ireland a little harder, I don’t wish it to be different and I know it will just be a different growing experience for me. I am okay with that.

I do pray and hope that as the semester continues that I would be able to find a guy who wants a friend and would benefit as much from my companionship as I will from his. As I mentioned, the pastor at Elevate has been such a Godsend, and many of the people there have been such a wonderful encouragement and church family for me. But I think I really would benefit from having someone who wants to spend literally as much time as possible with me this semester. Someone that is willing and ready to meet someone who would potentially become a lifelong best-friend. I just think I really need that type of relationship while over here in order to really thrive. So that is kinda my biggest prayer request right now. 🙂

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This is my view from my dorm window!

I think that is enough for this first entry! By the time of posting this I have completed my first multi-day adventure where I stayed in Dublin for the weekend. I have a lot of pictures and experiences to share, but those will have to wait. I hope my random scatter brain writing wasn’t too repulsive, and that you enjoyed the update and might even look forward to the next. 🙂

 

And as usual… here is a song that has been on my heart and mind a lot over the past couple months.

 

Adventure and Self-Awareness

You — Not With Haste

My brother wrote this a while back, and I quite literally couldn’t have said it better myself.

These words echo my heart, as well as the hope, inspiration, and contemplation I hope my blog instills.

If you skip over reading this blog, you are, in fact, the one who needs to read it most… Enjoy. 🙂

 

 

You. Yes, I mean you, and I want you to just think about you. It’s an uncomfortable topic, I know. We aren’t supposed to think about ourselves. There are so many other people and other problems in the world to think about. Wouldn’t it be selfish to focus on the topic of: you? No. Let me back up a bit. I was sitting on a picnic table by the boat docks of Grand Marais, taking a break from volunteer painting at a folk craft school. It was sunny, and warm for a Lake Superior April day, and very beautiful. I could see why some young people come up here for a summer or even 10 months at a time as interns, for the chance to live and work with so many amazing people and ancient crafts. Interesting life choice.

via You — Not With Haste

You — Not With Haste

Living Abundantly or Stressing Continually?

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While snowboarding with a couple of friends I recently I blurted out, “I am going to play it safe today, life is getting interesting!” There are many reasons I said this quickly, but only after thinking about it later, did I realize the truthfulness of this statement. A lot is happening in my life. A lot of decisions and a lot of responsibility. I naturally have enjoyed such “freedom”, but it does wear eventually, and definitely takes its toll on one’s mind. A simple combination of working more, my freshman semester in college, owning a car (multiple cars already in under a year… and not in a good way), and prioritizing relationships with Family, Friends (at school? at home? both? This actually is quite hard…), and above all else, God. These things have really made it very hard for me to “stop thinking” from time to time. I constantly am analyzing, planning, hoping, stressing, about things I want to control. These decisions have pushed me in many ways, ways that already have really helped me to “discover” myself: Who I am, how I handle stress, how I manage my time, how I react to different situations, and so much more. This “discovery” has been really interesting and enjoyable for myself, but as I mentioned, it really does drain oneself of energy. It is quite easy to become so absorbed in these circumstances and decisions that you forget the joy you once found in simple things such as random quiet times (a longer drive, “lonely” stroll, or just sitting in your room). This can easily go so far as to lose the ability or even the desire to lay off such thoughts in order to have said quiet times. I feel like I was just starting to discover and appreciate the benefits of these quite times, and enjoying the small things we find in every day given us, when these constant thought processes came my way giving me a certain pounding, unrelenting source of “stress”.

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Why am I saying all this? Firstly because I feel I am not the only one in this situation, and others might appreciate a scatter-brain like me to puke up the thoughts and feelings that they might be experiencing but have not sorted through themselves yet (although I completely understand that my type of writing is hardly sorting anything out for anybody… lol). But also to say, and remind myself, that I am broken and I struggle (only a certain amount of struggling is healthy… we need to think of such things, but we also need to rest in God’s peace and hand our struggles over to Him). So often we put on the faces of having everything together, but it is always freeing, beneficial, and necessary to remind yourself that this is not the case. I fear we can easily sell this face of “perfection” to those around us quite well, and at times so well that we even successfully sell it to ourselves without noticing! This sense of control is exactly what I think Satan wants us to find power, comfort, and joy in (if Satan wants us to experience such feelings at all), and is exactly what Christ came to abolish. We are broken, we are nothing without God’s saving grace and wisdom. WITH these however, God can work through us accomplish great works and much for his glory. Having the ability to take a step back, look at the big picture, slow your breath down, pray, and leave the rest in God’s hand, is vitally important and in discovering our daily joy and peace that God has promised. Trust God, focus on Him… worrying, or even just thinking, about everything going on in your life is not healthy, and is not accomplishing anything. I have been wrestling with a lot in general for a while now, and slowly ended up writing the following poem. It isn’t anything remarkable, but it is honest and truthful. I hope it is as encouraging to you as I found it has been to me already.

Soul Devotion

My heart strays and doth wander
Not away from You, but in addition to
But here lies my subtle blunder
For there is no meaningful addition
To Your gracious substitution
For all “good” pleasures
Are simply dead pastures
When separated from their roots
Take hold of mine oh God
For indeed You are my staff and my rod.

Forgetting what’s promised to follow
I linger through valley and shadow
But through His chiding and loving correction
I’m shown still waters and see my reflection
Staring back at prior events
I see the scraps of yesterday’s suspense
And begin to perceive the light through the heather
While pieces of the mosaic fall together
For I never had a decision
I was simply following a mission
Fumbling with the map of my life
Forgetting the purpose of the compass and Son
Distracted by the melodies of this worldly fife
At times oblivious to my Commander who’s war has been won

I blindly wage war
Against a damned foe
This useless battle is my fruitless passion
And beating the air brings vain satisfaction
This sense of control
Is my senseless error
For I am not the bearer
Of the supposed plot hole.
And only through the gift of His guidance
Leading me to the peace of still water
Am I able to assemble the evidence
I’m just a marvelous work of the Potter
Oh Lord of my emotions
Take hold of my devotions
My struggles have been with a map still folded
Am I hardening an unfinished work
Or softening my heart to be molded?

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This only my second poem, and I know I have a lot to learn, so bear with me. That being said, I do hope you were able to enjoy it, despite its roughness. Lately (as odd as it may sound), I have been praying that God would help me to focus my attention on Him more, and to pray more (yeah… praying that I would pray more. 🙂 So, in ending, I would like to end with a prayer.

Dear Lord, I do beg of you to take hold of my devotions. I need you, I need you far more than I could ever understand. How can I forget to give glory to the one who gives breath every single moment of every day. The one who blesses me every morning by giving me every morning. The one who HAS worked everything out in the past. The one who IS the source of grace and joy. Forgive me oh Lord, remind me of these blessings day-in and day-out. Help me to trust that with my heart longing for you, every “decision” I make is simply discovering your will. Help me to love the people around me with as much genuine love and humility that you have shown to me. Help them to notice this love in me, and desire it’s source with a seemingly unexplainable longing. You have given me everything, help me to find peace and joy in anything. Lord, I submit myself to you. Your will be done, not mine. Help me to live abundantly in your powerful name, Jesus Christ, I pray, amen.

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2016’s first sunset

Have a most wonderful day, and thank you so much for taking the time to read! 🙂

All for Him,

– David

I think I am going to post a link to one of my recent favorite songs in each blog post! So here you go… enjoy!

Living Abundantly or Stressing Continually?

Trapped in decision…?

I realized I have this blog account that I have never used… I am changing that. I recently have realized the wonders of writing with others in mind. I have kept a journal where I puke up my ideas and let them lay (still theraputic not very pleasant for others to read). But here, every once in awhile, I will give you, my friends, an update. Either a poem (yes, I have started experimenting, thanks to some awesome friends and sibling’s encouragement), or just a life update for all. Below is the first poem I have ever written…

It comes from my heart, but don’t freak out. I am not depressed or in dire straights, but it does reflect my heart. Especially with the changes I see happening (my brother getting married, me starting college… etc..) and the major decisions I am having to make regarding my many relationships, commitments, and school.

Without further ado, enjoy!


InDecision

Oh where do I start

Oh how to begin

I do not see, I cannot fathom

I ponder it all within

Some see the future, some the past

But all I do long for, all I do ask

Is how to approach this task at last

For I wade in a time gone by

Clinging to history, hiding from mystery

As a child, so small, so shy

Doth splash in a puddle or cling to a sweet

Oblivious to the ocean or the feast still to eat.

Blindly in love with innocence

Overwhelmed by my present day strife

I pass by future’s brilliance

In exchange for yesterday’s life.

But how does the unknown

So vast and so terrible

Evolve into memories grown

so alluring and so tangible?

Decision.

Action.

These make this transformation.

He knows the way, He knows what is right

For He is the way, He is the light

Yet still I doubt, still I question

For which way is the right direction?

Do I make a decision

Or wait for a vision?

This is my question

That’s turned my obsession

For how can I decisively know

When I am to stop or to go

With the decision I make, whatever it takes

Am I following your marvelous will

Or pursuing conventional thrill

Is this my passion, or is it thine?

Whosever it be, I pray they entwine.

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(And here is just one of the songs I have greatly appreciated over the last few months)

(and could someone please tell me how to get rid of the auto double space after you hit enter! xD)

Trapped in decision…?