Save Our Environment – My High School Speech

Save Our EnvironmentWhile organising the thousands (if not millions) of files and folders on my old laptop’s hard drive, I came across a Word document that took me back to my high school days in Nairobi, Kenya. The year was 2002, and I was in Year 8 at Oshwal High School (now called Oshwal Academy Nairobi). This was when ‘Bhavik Jayendrakumar Shah’ was an innocent lad with absolutely no clue about the wider issues that our world faced at the time (and faces today). I had probably just learnt the existence of the word ‘terrorism’ after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US, and was still understanding what the Millennium bug was all about. It came very much as a surprise to me when I got chosen by one of my teachers to prepare ‘an informative speech on a worldly event’ for the next school assembly (that took place every Monday morning). This was a terrifying thought for me at first – standing in front of the head teacher, teachers and a few hundred students, and fluently speaking about a topic that I barely knew about myself! Even worse, the teacher left the topic open-ended (which made it more difficult for me to choose one).

I quickly began to Google what topics I could perhaps speak about, and I noticed that one of the most urgent topics in the news and media was in relation to saving our environment from human activities and promoting sustainable living. Below is my two-minute speech that I prepared for the school assembly. Ignore the lack of detail and the overuse of exclamation marks in this speech – I was only a twelve year old boy then.

Save Our Environment

“Why is man against his own existence? Doesn’t he want to live on this planet any more? Why is he invading his very own creators? Doesn’t he need them any more? The advancement of technology has turned man into a very selfish creature. His greed and arrogance has made him forget the basics of life on Earth, a beautiful, clean and friendly environment. Seas, oceans and rivers, the backbone of life on Earth, are under threat! It seems as though man does not need them any more, and wants them captured – dead or alive! Even the first living things on Earth needed water. Seas, oceans and rivers have been the only sources of water on Earth since then.

Modernisation has now led to a serious problem to nature. It is endangering our environment. The biggest blow is the rapid industrialisation. It has led to a lot of water, air and noise pollution. The results are drastic! Acid rain, death of marine life and global warming are the easiest problems to name. These problems are also affecting humans.

Consumption of water with harmful chemicals from industrial wastes is extremely harmful. It can cause all sorts of chronic illnesses, and often lead to instant death. Just imagine aquatic life living in wastewater with chemicals from the textile or plastic industries. It is terrible! They need to be saved! We need to be saved!

Global warming is the melting of the polar ice caps caused by a rise in temperature. The level of water in oceans and seas around the world is rising. Land is submerging. It is just a matter of a few more years before we all drown. It is we to be blamed! It is part of our careless act against our environment.

Interfering with the water cycle can lead to damage to our seas, oceans and rivers. Deforestation can lead to fluctuations in the water levels too.

In order to prevent further destruction to our seas, oceans and rivers we must take the initiative of thinking about the negative effects of our acts. Think how bad even dropping litter or misusing nature can be. To cure, we must stop destroying, and improve the environment. Say ‘no’ to pollution! Say ‘yes’ to a friendly environment!

Thank you.”

The original document of the above speech can be found here – Save Our Environment by Bhavik J Shah.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen – Book Summary

Getting Things DoneGetting Things Done is a book that explains a well-formulated method for time management – the book partly provides tools and techniques, and partly explains the psychology behind it. Its author, David Allen says that mastering your time enables you to live in the present moment. The book is divided into 3 parts:

Part 1 (The Art of Getting Things Done) provides an outline for getting control of your life through the five stages of mastering workflow: collection, processing, organizing, reviewing and doing.

Part 2 (Practicing Stress-Free Productivity), which is well over half the book, repeats a lot of what is said in Part 1, but provides much more detail on the application of Allen’s methodology.

Part 3 (The Power of the Key Principles) explains why Allen’s methods work and the benefits to be gained from using his approach.

The entire process, including inputs, processing/thinking, and outputs (actions and action lists), is conveniently summarised in a flowchart provided in Getting Things Done. Allen’s philosophy is that to be one’s most productive self, one must be able to think clearly. In order to think clearly, one must have completely downloaded from one’s short-term memory or RAM (like computer RAM) all the ‘open loops’ – unfulfilled commitments one has made to oneself. This frees the mind to do naturally what it does best – think about things rather than of things. Allen gives pointers for using one’s critical thinking skills, including three methods for making decisions about what actions to take.

Once one has everything off his mind and written down, in paper or electronically, one has to decide, “What’s the next action?” This is the critical question! Once this is decided, the action must be completed or tracked in a trusted system, such as a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).

Allen also has a two-minute rule, which states that as one goes through their inbox and determines next actions, any next action that can be completed in two minutes or less should be completed immediately. In this way, a lot of items are touched only once and are forever cleared from their ‘psychic RAM’.

Allen outlines a process for getting RAM cleared in the first place and then for keeping it clear on a daily basis, as new things come into one’s inbox. The “What’s the next action?” question must be asked on the front-end, when the item from the inbox is first reviewed.

Applying Allen’s system is put forth as a way for today’s knowledge worker to have a competitive edge in the new millennium. Allen’s system is as applicable to one’s home environment and projects as it is to one’s work. He also claims it can help procrastinators.

Below is the management process described in Getting Things Done. Click anywhere on the image to expand it, and implement this simple-yet-effective system to develop your time management and organisational skills.

Getting Things Done Process

More information can be found on the Official Website of David Allen and Getting Things Done and Wikisummaries.

The Matrix – Movie Summary

  1. The MatrixIn the Matrix, Thomas A. Anderson is a man living a double life – working for a highly respectable software company, and a hacker under the alias ‘Neo’.
  2. The Matrix follows the progression of Neo going from regular guy to being exposed to the ‘real world’. The revelation comes in that the world Neo thought was real was actually the Matrix, a computer program developed by machines in order to use human beings as batteries.
  3. Neo was thought by Morpheus – a person Neo has been desperately trying to find in the ‘real world’ – how to control the Matrix. Morpheus feels Neo is the chosen one, the one who will set everyone free from the Matrix. Neo, along with everyone else involved in these missions, are constantly being pursued by Agents, sentient programs whose job it is to isolate those who hack into the Matrix and remove them.
  4. The Matrix contains a great deal of religious and philosophical parallels which have been noticed by philosophers and academia and the film is still being closely studied to this day. While many may appreciate The Matrix for its over-the-top fight scenes, there is much to be gained from the film on both intellectual and philosophical levels.
  5. When Morpheus presents Neo with the choice of two pills, this can be interpreted as recognition of Neo’s double consciousness and his acceptance of the red pill is the first step towards becoming a singular individual. Near the end of the movie, Neo has a climactic hand to hand fight with Agent Smith who has consistently insisted on referring to Neo as ‘Mr. Anderson’. During a moment in which it appears Agent Smith will be victorious, Neo takes hold of him and triumphantly exclaims “My name is Neo!” and momentarily defeats Agent Smith. In
    this moment, Neo has chosen which life to embrace and has discarded the Thomas Anderson persona of his previous life.
  6. Following the climactic fight scene in which Neo goes toe to toe with Agent Smith and realises that this is a fight he cannot win, he rushes to find the nearest exit from the Matrix. At the end of this pursuit, a matter of feet away from the exit, Neo is ambushed by three Agents and shot, presumably to death. This bears many similarities to the Crucifixion of Jesus. Neo ‘dies’ but is resurrected moments later as ‘the One’. He now possesses the ability to bend the laws of physics within the Matrix to his will, stopping bullets in mid-flight by merely willing them to do
    so. After Neo effortlessly defeats Agent Smith, the film ends shortly thereafter with Neo leaving a short message for the machines. Afterward, Neo is seen flying into the sky, similar to the Christian belief of Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.
  7. The following inspiring quotes originated from the Matrix:

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” – Morpheus

“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” – Morpheus

“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” – Morpheus

The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.