Looking inside ourselves in times of catastrophe

When you turn on the TV to news outlets, you’re constantly being exposed to what’s going wrong in the world.  Events such as terrorist attacks, nations under political gridlock, and natural disasters such as hurricanes Irma and Harvey ravaging towns, can be overwhelming for many. During times like these, tragedy can seem omnipresent and all-consuming. It’s easy to get discouraged about the current state of the world. Many people rely on law enforcement or government officials to clean up the damage, which causes them to give up on important issues of our society.

As our nation and world continue to become more polarized, many people have even become distrusting toward authorities such as the President of the United States or even local police officers. This doubt and fear toward authorities sworn to maintain and defend the social welfare of citizens can further create an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty.

Yet in order to truly overcome obstacles that come our way, we have to look to another entity: ourselves. Believe it or not, we as teenagers have the ability to transform our current world. The solution is plain and simple: get involved. There are so many ways to find an outlet for change. Clubs and community service organizations such as PHS Red Cross Club or UNICEF are the first foundations toward making an impact. Getting acquainted with students such as yourself and working together to solve a common issue is not only empowering, but effective. These clubs are also committed to breaking down youth barriers and allowing kids to see their true potential. Furthermore, youth councils and political activist groups within the state work toward getting teens engaged when it comes to current events. Whether you lean left or right, your voice can be found and developed through these organizations. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones and go the extra mile to be a part of a change.

In order to do so, you can start by understanding and listening to the issues. One of the best ways to get a grasp of core issues is to ask questions. If you want to solve an important topic, investigate and ask key personnel affiliated with it. Regardless of whether it’s police brutality or homophobia, you need to understand and build compassion for the “other.” Once you can see their pain and their realities through dialogue, you can begin to search for effective solutions to these tough but certainly not impossible dilemmas.

Don’t get us wrong: you don’t have to devote your whole life to helping others, although you can if you so choose. What is important to realize is that acknowledging the need for change is a cornerstone to a stronger society. We have learned how to unite ourselves during times of tragedy and sympathize with others when events like these take place in our community and in the world. Yet it shouldn’t take a terrorist attack or a natural disaster to bring us together. We have to see the goodness in people even when we are not threatened by the evil around us. Listen to the cries for help, look for those who could use some support, and reach out to those who may just need someone to listen. That’s how we truly grow; not only as individuals, but as a unified society.

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