My personal convictions and beliefs stem mainly from the idea of inclusivity and a place of non-judgement. Even so, at times they might seem quite contradictory, even polar opposites at times. My upbringing has been liberal and I have always been encouraged to follow my dreams, whatever they may be. This has made me aware of the potential that everybody carries – I believe firmly that everyone has the potential to achieve their dreams, to create and make a life for themselves. At the same time, I also understand that not everybody has the chances or opportunity to do so.
It is the big contradiction in life – that people are led to feel that they can achieve their dreams, but yet there are many barriers held up that they either let defeat them or they try to knock down. Although I have been encouraged to follow my dream of having my work published and having the chance to create and write, it has not been an easy journey. It sometimes takes hardship to build character and help us to learn lessons. In my case, it has taught me that money is fleeting and the important things in life are love, courage, creativity and willpower.
Like most liberals, I believe that social inequality is to blame for many of the world’s problems. On the other hand, I’m also progressive, and feel that certain things – politics, science, the arts, wealth and health – belong to everybody and not the privileged few. I feel that everyone has something to offer the world, and if only people came together more often, in communities and leading by example, will the barriers of class, gender, race, disability and sexuality be toppled. I have a need to listen to and encourage people to tell their own stories, to share their experiences with each other. It is less about shouting out your own story and eclipsing others, and more about collaborating, yet also having space to develop on your own.
As a feminist, I believe that women need to fight against sexual violence, against systems of oppression, against poisonous beliefs within society that mean we are oppressed. As individuals we might not feel we are particularly oppressed, but it is when we go out into society, and come up against views and systems of oppression, that we understand just how desperate the situation is. Why do I believe this? I’ve seen and understood things through the lens of feminism, through the lens of being a woman. I’ve felt things and come close to things where I could have been in danger. I believe that our foundations as a society have been built on HIStory, and have ignored the contributions and stories of women. As a deaf woman too, my life has been touched by an ignorance of the power of our stories.
I believe that writing and reading are some of the most important skills that we can teach anybody. I realise that many people struggle with this, but a whole world can be opened up just by teaching people these two skills. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for an enthusiasm for reading and writing, for the power of the written word, for the space and time I have to write down what I am thinking and what I have imagined. However, I also understand the power of the arts and creativity as a whole – and harnessing these powers can be more important than anything. Creating comes from somewhere inside us, and gives us the strength to acknowledge who we are, and accept ourselves.
For me, self-acceptance and body acceptance are beliefs I hold close to my heart. It has taken me many years to learn how much healthier it is to learn to accept myself and my body. It is by no means a perfect body, and I am by no means anyone special. I feel that the world is difficult and scary enough without also hating ourselves, being dissatisfied with our bodies, constantly fighting against who we are and what we really want from life. Acceptance is one of the greatest gifts someone can give themselves. It is different to self-esteem – it is the acknowledgement that we are great, and fine, as we are. Self-esteem is learning to love yourself, and what you do. It is about confidence and building up your own confidence. Both of these things – acceptance and self-esteem – are again part of my recipe for a good and happy life.
I believe in inclusion. A world without barriers. A world where people can go about their lives without persecution and prejudice. I feel that there are so many things the world could do without. For example, the way that gossip cuts people down. Or the never ending mass of tabloid articles. Or fame, as a concept. Fame is a fickle creature. You can appreciate someone for what they have created – a book, a song, a piece of art – but when we go into the realm of idolatry of somebody, just because they are famous, we overstep the mark. This is part of what is wrong with our society – there is something strangely broken somewhere. Where what matters is not how beautiful your work is or how necessary it is, but whether you can afford the latest designer handbag, or how beautiful (according to narrowly defined ideals of beauty) you are.
I’m not religious. I feel that sometimes religion can be dangerous, just as science can be dangerous. Both left unchecked can lead to an unethical place. We have already gone too far into one direction – where religion or off-shoots of religion can brainwash people, and science can experiment on apes and animals, and can release chemicals into the food chain – and sometimes I wonder if it can ever come back to a place where faith and thought can co-exist together.
Both flirt with disaster – religious fundamentalism, the atom bomb, biological weapons. Bombs and wars – sometimes that seems to end the equation. Yet I am always hopeful that science can still be a place of wonder and imagination, and that faith can be about caring for one another and imagining a better place on earth. So you could say that I appreciate the advances of science, but I don’t trust it. I appreciate personal faith and belief, but I don’t trust religion. My propensity to question and discuss mean that I don’t settle on any one particular system as the most important. I think people are the most important thing, as is the planet and the animals.
The world is a beautiful but messy place. It is a place where you get the beauty of creation and the ravages of war. Where you can be a creator but also a destroyer. That is the strange contradiction.
‘The desert and the ocean are realms of desolation on the surface.
The desert is a place of bones, where the innards are turned out, to desiccate into dust.
The ocean is a place of skin, rich outer membranes hiding thick juicy insides, laden with the soup of being.
Inside out and outside in. These are worlds of things that implode or explode, and the only catalyst that determines the direction of eco-movement is the balance of water.
Both worlds are deceptive, dangerous. Both, seething with hidden life.
The only veil that stands between perception of what is underneath the desolate surface is your courage.
Dare to breach the surface and sink.’ – Vera Nazarian.