I have lived a privileged life. I am reminded time and again of how fortunate I am to have my basic needs met, the opportunity to pursue higher education, and a network of people to support me.
Growing up in Valparaiso has at times, felt like living in a picturesque community sheltered from bigger societal issues. But it is not. It’s just become normal in today’s society to entrap ourselves with busy schedules and generally not think of those who are struggling unless it is personally impacting our lives.
The “Golden Rule” is something many people believe in and claim to live by, but too often there is a disparity between what we say and what we do. A lifestyle of hypocrisy.
This is not unique to our community. I believe we, as a human race, can all do a better job of changing our own lives and communities – just by thinking and talking.
Thinking of people less fortunate than us comes easily this time of year when we are surrounded by the excess of the holiday season. But what happens when this “season of giving” ends? Is giving seasonal? And exactly what are we giving? If we are truly committed to helping others, we should do so on a daily basis. One way to do this is by thinking of those uncomfortable topics – the elephant(s) in the room.
There is unequal access to education. Families are stuck in a cycle of poverty. And too many people still fight for basic equality and the strength to overcome prejudice.
With these problems and more, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. But, that doesn't mean it is a hopeless battle. Talk with a friend or family member and share your thoughts. Exchange ideas. Keeping these issues at the forefront of our minds on a daily basis, is one way to ensure change.
After the flurry of festivity that is the holiday season, resolutions will be made. Mine will be to avoid living a life of hypocrisy. I hope to think, speak, and act in a way that is consistent with what I believe and to continue to empathize with struggles I have not known.
It seems simple enough, but how easy is it for us to not speak our minds? How habitual has it become to focus on our daily lives and avoid the larger problems that plague humanity? I am guilty of this and am hoping to change. I challenge others to do the same.
While spending time with those you love, reflect on the way you interact with those you don’t even know. Remember that giving isn't seasonal and that nothing will change without first changing the way we think.