[Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s, and not necessarily representative of The Willistonian staff.]
There is a disease many teenagers have been afflicted with, one that has spiraled out of control and now even Williston is brutally infected with: apathy.
To have apathy is to not care about things, often things that are important. For some reason, it’s cool to be apathetic and uncool to care about things. Nobody wants to be seen talking about foreign affairs because then they’d look lame. I reject the notion that not caring is cool – as a matter of fact I care very much about a lot of things, and you should too.
Look up from your phones and around the world; you’ll find tragedies all over. How can you not care about human rights violations in South Sudan or the too often forgotten Palestinians and their ever-shrinking country? Last week when an eight year old girl was killed during a mission our president called a success, I nearly cried. You don’t have to cry, but I do hold you accountable to at least know.
Believe it or not these things can – and do – have a direct effect on your life. The coffee you had this morning was likely farmed by an unpaid child in Cote d’Ivoire. Your soda stream was built by Palestinian workers, but most of the profit from you buying it will go to their Israeli boss. And you know what? You can do something. Don’t buy a soda stream! Don’t buy coffee farmed by the children of Cote d’Ivoire. If everybody knew how exploitative these companies were they couldn’t get away with it! The people wouldn’t allow it.
You don’t have to look past the border wall to find battles worth fighting. That law South Carolina passed that prevents the transgender from using the bathroom they feel comfortable in hasn’t been reversed. Believe it or not, your passing Facebook activism didn’t change much. It fell out of the news and the cult of outrage left it alone, so you stopped caring. The people of Flint, Michigan still don’t have clean water. Americans are unable to get clean drinking water, but your taxpayer money is going towards weapons for Israel and bombs to be dropped on Syria.
How do they get away with it? How can such outrages be allowed to go on? No one was paying attention. No one cares about the Flint water crisis because it isn’t the cool thing to be outraged about at the moment. If consistent pressure had been put on since the crisis began the governor of Michigan would have been forced to do something, but everybody just turned away, effectively letting the people who poisoned children get away with it.
I don’t mean to single out teenagers – apathy has spread to almost everyone. According to CNN, voter turnout in the U.S. was only 55% in 2016. That isn’t an outlier, either; in 2012 it was only 64%, and I can assure you it’s much lower for the midterm elections.
So please, care. I’m begging you. I don’t care about what – just pick an issue and start screaming about it. Even if I disagree with you on it, the fact that we can have a debate means something will be done, which is better than what we have now. March with the protestors, get involved in local government, call your senator; if you live in Massachusetts, your senators are Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. Their phone numbers are (202)-224-4543 and (202)-224-2742, respectively. It’s you Constitutional right to call them; you pay their salary.
If you can’t do any of that, just have a debate with someone. The easiest population to control is the unengaged one – so start engaging. Hold the people with power accountable – only then will we see change.