Now and Then

The celebs have words of ad­vice for their younger selves as they re­visit the photographs that make them cringe

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - SHUTTERBUG -

JOAN BUR­TON TD Min­is­ter for So­cial Pro­tec­tion. Above, in the mid-Six­ties

“It was Nel­son Man­dela who said courage is not the ab­sence of fear, but the tri­umph over it. And if I could some­how ad­vise my younger self in this pic­ture, I would say: ‘Take your courage in your hands, and dare to dare.’ Mostly I did.

“I was the first in the Bur­ton fam­ily to go to col­lege; I've had three dif­fer­ent ca­reers, as an ac­coun­tant, a lec­turer, and a pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tive; and I have trav­elled ex­ten­sively, in­clud­ing sev­eral years liv­ing in Africa, which sig­nif­i­cantly broad­ened my out­look on life and taught me so much, and as a re­sult of which, I would en­cour­age any young per­son to travel.

“But I didn't al­ways have the con­fi­dence I needed, and, in par­tic­u­lar, when I was this age, I was very ten­ta­tive about trac­ing my birth par­ents. It was much later in life, with the lov­ing sup­port of my hus­band and my daugh­ter, that I fi­nally sum­moned the courage I needed to do so. By then, sadly, my birth par­ents were dead, but it was a hugely im­por­tant, emo­tional and lib­er­at­ing jour­ney for me none­the­less.

“And in the con­text of jour­neys, I would say to any young per­son that you will be tested along the way, but pur­sue your dreams, hold true to your be­liefs, and re­mem­ber it's al­ways worth fight­ing to make the world a bet­ter place.

“In 1966, Robert Kennedy ad­dressed stu­dents in South Africa, ex­hort­ing them to con­tinue the strug­gle against dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­equal­ity. A line in that speech has al­ways stayed with me, prob­a­bly be­cause of my own in­volve­ment in the Ir­ish Anti-Apartheid Move­ment, and seems apt in the con­text of ad­vice for the young.

“He said: ‘ This world de­mands the qual­i­ties of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a tem­per of the will, a qual­ity of the imag­i­na­tion, a pre­dom­i­nance of courage over timid­ity, of the ap­petite for ad­ven­ture over the life of ease.’”

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