THE SNJ’s new columnist Karen Eberhardt-Shelton was born in California but grew up in England.

She now lives in Stroud and is currently working on an education project called Learn, Think, Act and is hoping to develop an eco-community land trust.

Her thought-provoking columns will focus on how we all have to take responsibility for our actions and for our planet.

A MATURE friend recently stated that “We’re not allowed to use common sense any more.”

I agree fully. It’s all that health and safety and data protection stuff.

You can’t even speak one last time to a crony dying in hospital if you’re not a family member.

Your local politician supports fracking but all you can do is leave a message with the secretary or write a letter about why it’s so wrong.

You can’t easily speak your mind either.

It’s mainly because most individuals are too timid (and might face rejection if they do speak).

As Dr Carol Dweck says in her great little book Mindset: “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.

“A fixed mindset makes people into non-learners ... when you enter the world of the growth-mindset, everything changes; brightens, expands, fills with energy and possibility.

“You’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.

“Those with growth-mindset are the ones who show the most character and heart.

“Growth-mindset is a starting point for change, and allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.”

The great Bertrand Russell offered what has become my favourite quote: “Open-mindedness is a quality that will always exist where the desire for knowledge is genuine.”

The main reason I am driven to express my thoughts, ideas and feelings is because I feel the days of feudal serfdom conditioned people not to speak up and elements of that are still lingering on.

In my view, if we don’t speak up we will continue blundering down the same destructive paths.

We will lead toward over-more, all-consuming excess population, deforestation, climate change, pollution, extinction, consumerism and all the other mindlessly destructive things we’re imposing on this great earth.

Several years ago I interviewed the deep thinker, Vernon Coleman, author of many books including Know Yourself and Mindpower.

In a book titled Spirit Power, some of what he wrote touched me deeply.

Here are some of his thoughts: * If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.

* Imaginative, thoughtful and creative people have always had a hard time.

* Our world has never welcomed the original.

Nor has it welcomed the challenging, the inspirational or the passionate, and has always preferred the characterless to the thought-provoking.

* The iconoclast has never been a welcome figure in any age.

This is a tragedy of monumental proportions, for the lone, eccentric voice speaking out against perceived wisdom is often right, and the experts and officials are often wrong.

I will never stop speaking my mind.

Do you feel that people are conditioned not to speak up against established ideas?

Do you have any inspiring quotations?

Add your thoughts at