The Changes We Want Start with Us

When I was younger, I used to flip through my school’s history textbook and review all the famous figures I had studied that year. Starting from leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to humanitarian workers such Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa, I had learned about the contributions of exemplary individuals of a backward time in history. In that moment, I used to think that now that society is more accepting, diverse and connected, people are not as narrow-minded as in the past. Perhaps we’ll be seeing more Gandhis and Nightingales in our present-day. I used to think that generations later, history books won’t be composed of barbaric events or wars from my time, unlike the affairs centuries ago I had to read about. But with the current interruptions I see in the flow of a better tomorrow, I am concerned with what leaders today have to offer.

Today, innocent people are confronted by a war spreading like wildfire. Today, millions are victims of a despondent refugee crisis. Today, politics are played on the cards of fear mongering and bigotry. Today, human beings turn on each other simply because of the differences of their skin or faith. Today, a wounded orphan is just a picture collecting thousands of likes on Facebook. Today, the world bleeds through the wounds that came with the diminishing sense of humanity.

Our so-called globalization is futile if we continue to breed division, intolerance and hate. We have leaders that gather masses by devising negative messages and emboldening bigotry. The only time we take a minute to absorb the consequences of war on innocent people is when a viral photo pops up in social media and we take pity and move on. The only time we speak on issues such as racism and irrepressible gun laws are when we tweet a hashtag or convey condolences to a family who lost a loved one to a bullet. Such issues trouble me to the core. I fear, that history is repeating itself and time is moving backwards, and perhaps after all, the upcoming generations will have to read history books still comprised of hateful stories.

We share our dissatisfaction with the social dogmas of partiality in the world, yet we fall short when it comes to uniting to take a stance for what is right. Still, we fail to recover our mentalities from the social atrocities occurring daily. I am a firm believer in little acts of kindness, as I believe they can have significant impacts. I am confident that if we use our voices and stay true to our values and act for it, maybe the history books in the future won’t be entirely bad. The changes we want to see start with us.

-Inshira Anwar