COMMENTARY: Indifference will undoubtedly undermine our future
Look around and consider the chaos and conflict that plagues the world. We are repeatedly bombarded by the issues throughout the world demanding our attention. In such a reality, with constant coverage of only the worst aspects of society, there is a tendency for people to differentiate between the issues they deem significant and those they see as inconsequential. Typically, the decision to care is made by measuring both the gravity of the issue as well as the direct effect on the individual. Such a process leads to neglect toward issues holding significant gravity but low direct impact on the individual, and issues directly impacting the individual but written off as endurable. This sense of apathy is actively undermining our future. It allows for systematic problems, worthy of our concern but often ignored, to persist despite our underlying desire for them to be addressed. We are increasingly embracing our “lack of energy” when it comes to making the world a better place, as if the only motivation for us to truly care is when we are faced with true crisis. Such a notion is absolutely unacceptable.
There is no reason why we need to accept a world so grossly disconnected from the interests of the many. So many problems only remain because we refuse to take action against them. We are so desperate to avoid the immediate inconvenience of addressing issues outright that we forsake a future that is free of those issues. This mentality is to the detriment of not only ourselves, but everyone who comes after us. We forget that our suffering will not be unique to ourselves. Everyone who comes after us will face the same situations we have. The longer we go without confronting a problem, the more people will suffer until someone finally decides to do something. When we ignore these issues and push the responsibility onto someone else we are actively abandoning our duty not only to ourselves but to the many generations after us. God forbid they hold the same mentality as we do.
In a world of endless suffering, the only solution is that we must care endlessly. If we are to be proud of our impact on the world, then caring cannot be a choice. We must take up an obligation toward realizing a better future. The fact that we blind ourselves to the misfortune of others should bring us shame. The fact that we blind ourselves to our own misfortunes should make us feel frustrated.
This is not a matter of endless sacrifice, but rather, the idea of not letting petty reasons hold us back from the opportunity of bringing about positive change. Caring does not mean constant worry, work and stress, but voting, volunteering and making your voice heard. When people call upon you to help accomplish something great — at your university, your work or otherwise — you should help out. Be the change you want to experience. Even the smallest commitment to a worthy cause can be meaningful. People, of course, prioritize their own lives and their own convenience when it comes to choosing when to act. But some people throughout the world will never have the power to make a difference in their own situation. People being oppressed by their government or starving often times cannot escape that situation. If everyone in our country and even other countries around the world took up opportunities to help others, even if it is only a matter of volunteering on an occasional basis, the world could be so much greater than what it is. We could form a future to be proud of.
All the great men and women before us, who managed to change society for the better, did not accomplish their missions by themselves. Great leaders cannot lead when no one cares to follow. A great movement can only emerge when it is fueled by the commitments of many. Throughout history some people have dedicated their whole lives to a specific cause, but many have not. All of them, from those who sacrificed everything to those who only sacrificed a small bit of time, have mattered. They all helped build a better future.
Michael Holey is a School of Arts and Sciences junior planning on majoring in political science.
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