Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Noblesse Oblige

It was Robert Burns, was it not, who said something about seeing yourself as others see you? Here I have my second blog award in as many days. The last one was a bit of fun, this one seems altogether more serious; not brow-knittingly serious; not ‘what can we do now to minimise the damage we have inflicted on the planet serious?’ But serious enough to have made me stop and think about what I’m doing here:

1) The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervade amongst different cultures and beliefs.

2) The Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage and offers solutions.

3) There is a clear purpose at the Blog; one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Culture and Sciences and Beliefs.

4) The Blog is refreshing and creative.

5) The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.

The Blogger who receives this award must:

1) Create a Post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.

2) Display the award conditions at the Post.

3) Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved – preferably citing one, or more, older post(s) to support.

4) The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the award conditions.

5) TheBlogger must display the Award at any location at the Blog.

The award was given to me by Savannah a blogger with a very light touch, who is at once extremely funny and deadly serious. You just know that Savannah knows what she is doing, that she gives thought to the things that matter, that she has a mind worth paying attention to. So if Savannah gives you an award like this, which is to all intents and purposes a blogging manifesto of the highest order, you don’t just say: ‘little me? No, no I’m not worthy,’ you take a good look at yourself in the hope, the faint hope, of seeing yourself as she seems to see you.

For me blogging is a way of joining in the conversation (as Don Patterson calls it). The (western) world-wide conversation about how to live a good life. I once heard a very old woman being interviewed on the radio. She had been one of those intrepid explorers and had travelled pretty much the whole world alone, on foot. The interviewer asked her what had driven her to do this; she answered that she hadn't wanted to find herself on her deathbed wondering what she had done with her life. I was about nineteen at the time, not an age known for considerations about mortality, yet there was something about this woman and what she said that really struck a chord. It still does: can you imagine lying there, in a hospital, the smell of disinfectant (and worse) oozing over you, surrounded by people fast losing control of their bodily functions, wondering, ‘what have I achieved?’ and being unable to come up with anything?

I don’t think you need to achieve something monumental: travel the world on foot alone, get yourself elected president of a nation, make vast sums, or cure world poverty, in order to face death feeling satisfied with the life you have lived. I don't even think you need to aim to do any of these things. I think all you need is to go through life being aware that you are not the only life-form and act accordingly. The difficulty is that acting: how do I know I’m acting accordingly? This question can be enough to paralyse the strongest of characters, but if we all share our experiences, good and bad, our triumphs and our failures, surely we’ll have more of a chance. That is the purpose of this blog: to share my experiences in the hope that they might help get someone somewhere to wiggle a toe or stretch out an arm once more.

Looking back at my old posts I think I probably do that best when I share something of interest I’ve heard someone else say. Not that I want to play down my recipe for cocoa or my ideas about dress sense, these are the little things I believe can have a positive, daily, effect on life. But the people who stand up at the TED conferences, for example, seem to have such a clear vision that it feels like they contribute more than I ever could on my own. They deal with the big stuff, most of which we ignore at our peril: education, global warming, the advance of technology, and so much more. So whereas my chat about marking essays is unlikely to change the practise of education, or my views on tank-tops aren’t going to further world peace, I kind of hope that combined with what the big boys say about this big stuff, my arguments act like pieces of straw placed on the back of the monster.

Now I must pass on this award to five bloggers who I believe best exemplify its purpose. So here goes:

Mary: a bit like the lady explorer, she travels the world teaching English. Her blog details what makes us different to, but never less than, and also the same as, each other. And it does so in the most entertaining way. I have spent many an hour pondering what her stories mean.

Debra: an artist who strives to make a material difference to the lives of thousands of families with her Cups of Kindness project. This has so far managed to provide a huge number of meals, through the Akron food-bank, to those who would otherwise have to choose between food or such things as paying the rent, buying medicine, or keeping their kids warm. Take a look at her blog to get the exact number.

Jane Dearie: raped, beaten, and left for dead, Jane’s blog details her endeavours to make a change in the law to redress the balance between victim and perpetrator. She never flinches from telling it like it is.

The world according to me: she is young, she is exuberant, and she is currently in love. Nikki’s blog reminds me what youth tastes like (cheese, mostly!) with all its pitfalls and cloud hopping.

Leigh: the agony and the ecstasy of getting a book published. This blog explains the dichotomy between creativity and our current economic mess by sharing the writer’s experiences, detail by ‘holy mother of...!’ detail.

So there it is, thanks to Savannah for making me think about these things.


The World According To Me said...

Gee thanks for the award! I am touched to be mentioned on your blog.

And yep, my life does taste of cheese!

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you, Eryl, I'm really happy to be given this award. Not sure I deserve it. While some bloggers set out to change the world, I'm just rambling about in it. I do enjoy blogging with people from all round the world, so perhaps I'm doing my little bit for international relations... Thanks again.

savannah said...

xoxox and you know why!

Scarlet-Blue said...

Congrats to all!
I struggle with the 'What have I achieved question'!

Mary Witzl said...

Thank you, Eryl! I love having a little fun at my students' and kids' expense, but it's wonderful to be treated as though what I write is worthy and full of meaning.

And I love the idea of laying a straw on the back of the monster --which is all I can hope to do myself. Good thing I've got a lot of straws...

Eryl Shields said...

N ~ You are most welcome, I adore reading about your whirlwind exploits, and cheeses!

Leigh ~ and you share: I've learnt so much from your publishing experience.

Savannah ~ XXXXXXXXXXXX back!

Scarlet ~ look at the community you've built up around you, it's all such fun over at your place!X

Mary ~ you seem to go around collecting straws especially, and laying them down on the monster's back with such gusto, that I'm sure you will topple him all by yourself one of these days.

PI said...

Well I simply enjoy a pretty, friendly face, your kindness and humour. All the rest is a bonus:)

Eryl Shields said...

Dear Pat, XXX

Leigh Russell said...

Just came back for quick peek at my award...

Kim Ayres said...

You're a worthy recipient, Eryl. Now, don't leave it too long before you come round to talk bollocks again :)

Eryl Shields said...

Leigh ~ you are welcome any time.

Kim ~ Ha! You're too kind :)

debra said...

Thank you for your kind words, Eryl.
I'm trying to think of something profound and thoughtful to say. The slate is blank this morning, so a simple thanks will have to do.

Eryl Shields said...

Debra ~ all you need do is keep doing what you already do, that is profound enough, X

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you Eryl... I just caught sight of my blog listed to the right of this box (very exciting to see it there) and right below it, "My Life Requires Alcohol" (how did you know?) And after the alcohol - Flying Pink Elephants!

Coffee with Cathy said...

And thank you, Eryl (there sure is a lot of gratitude going on around here!) for sharing this with your readers and getting us to think about these things, too. This was an insightful post and I appreciate you reminding us of the value of being in the blogosphere.

Eryl Shields said...

Leigh ~ I can just tell!

Cathy ~ wouldn't it be nice if the material world were a bit more like this? You are welcome, I really do think the blogosphere has a great deal to add to life.