The other day I was talking to a friend of mine and we agreed that we all can’t save the world. Let me back up. This conversation started when we were talking about Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special on Netflix. He jokes around with various topics, but at one point he made an observation about millennials that resonated with me. Addressing a millennial in the audience he said, “For your generation, the space shuttle blows up every day.” In other words, there are so many horrible things happening every day that it’s getting hard for us to care about them, and we simply recoil into our social media and Netflix accounts and think we can’t help.
At first I thought Chappelle was wrong, but then I reflected on it. Every time I read the news or watch television, look at my Facebook feed or even a group chat, there is always some mention of a horrible act that happened that day. Whether it’s Syria, United Airlines, mass shootings, police brutality or one of the various issues with the environment, something is always wrong. Before I started writing this I went on cnn.com and the first headline I saw was “8-year old killed in mass shooting.”
It becomes hard to care about one issue when another arises 24 hours later. Something heartbreaking will happen, and we all say “damn,” and then go to class. We live in an age during which it’s hard to stand behind an issue when there are so many. In my grandparents’ era—even my parents’ era—there were issues but people were able to stand behind them in unity because there were not nearly as many.
After all my years of reading comics, a recurring theme is that the hero cannot save everyone. However, we don’t need to be heroes to help one another. There will always be pain and tragedy in the world, but just because we become more and more exposed to it, it doesn’t mean we should give up. We’ll never be able to save everyone and fight every issue, but you can always lend a helping hand to someone you know needs it.
As college students, we can only do so much, but as we grow and mature into adulthood and go on to live our lives after we graduate, we will become members of society that can make bigger differences. It’s important to remember that those differences can be anything that makes the world a better place. Just because you can’t find the cure for cancer, or combat police brutality, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a positive effect. Pick something you’re passionate about or a way that you can help people. Be aware of all the issues that are happening in the world, but at the same time, know that by devoting your time to one of them, you’re more likely to make a difference. You’d be surprised just how far a small action can go.
Just about a week ago I was at the mall and was on my way to Forever 21 (yes, they have a guys section fellas, and yes it fire) when I was passing a guy and he said, “Have a good day, brother,” to which I replied, “Thanks, you too, man.” I didn’t know him nor was it that big of an act, but it put me in a good mood and it made me want to make someone happy. Point being, choose a way you feel you can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be everyday but try to make it consistent. I know I struggle with the consistent part.
Despite the terrible events that are plaguing the world, there’s still a lot of good in it that we don’t always see. That being said, I’ll leave you guys with a quote from Charles Dickens. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” Stay woke.
Chaz Phillips is a member of the Class of 2018.