Column: A Call To More Action
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The world is a very different place in May 2012 than it was a mere 365 days ago. What’s different? Well, what was formerly Sudan is now two different countries. Muammar Qaddafi, who ruled Libya for more than four decades, was killed by the Libyan rebel army, effectively putting an end to the country’s civil war. The United States is no longer at war in Iraq. And of course, Osama bin Laden is dead.
I remember the night he died quite clearly, mostly because of the way Americans across the country were reacting. On every major cable news network, you saw scenes of people gathering in the streets of Washington and New York. Everywhere you looked, you saw people waving American flags, hugging each other, celebrating because their country’s military had just killed the most wanted man in the world.
Happy though I was that bin Laden was dead, I couldn’t help but wonder to myself whether or not there was something perverse about taking to the streets for such an occasion. And after wondering for a few milliseconds, I concluded that yes, indeed there was.
Think about the United States for a moment. We are a nation whose education system is in total shambles. A nation whose citizens are appallingly unhealthy and whose children are getting fatter and dumber by the day. Whose political system has been hijacked by lobbyists and corporations. Who has funded wars that have done little besides drain our treasury and stir up resentment abroad. Whose defense budget is greater than those of China, the UK, France, Russia, Japan, and Germany combined. All the while, some 13 million remain unemployed and some 50 million can’t afford health insurance.
Yet we don’t flood streets of Washington, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, L.A., San Francisco, and Chicago to protest these things en masse. Apparently we don’t mind these things, all of which clearly make our lives worse, or at least prevent them from being better. No, we prefer to passively sit on our asses and watch it all just happen. Only when a mass-murderer is killed during an early-morning raid on his Abbotabad compound do we feel compelled to get up and go outside.
Not that I am one to lead by example. I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to apathy and disinterest. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get more involved with issues regarding social and environmental activism during my time here at Boston College. But rather than simply acknowledge that fact and move on with my life, I plan on doing something about it this summer when I go home to Detroit, a city that needs all the help it can get.
One year from now, the world will be a very different place than it currently is. Whether or not it is better or worse will depend on what we as individuals and communities do to shape it. That is what bin Laden’s death and its consequences have taught me.