When you turn on the news, it may feel like you are being bombarded with a world that has gone crazy. Interestingly enough, the world likely has not gone crazy. If you study the passages of time throughout history, you will discover that human have always done a fairly decent job of making Earth a bit of a crazy place. In the modern day however, with 24/7 coverage of global and domestic affairs and with reactions able to be posted simultaneously, every event is magnified. We live in a digital age where we are connected to events to the point of over-connection. Thus, our exposure and reaction to that exposure is highlighted more than it was in the past. However, we share a common point with prior generations and eras – we have the power to control how our era plays out to some degree. I speak of how we react to everyday situations and how our own internal moral compass and willingness to take action can impact the society that we live in – including having influence upon those who are in positions of power whom can most visibly promote change. How do we deal with the chaos that seems to rule our society? By looking within our own hearts and realizing the love and compassion that we are made of and using these values – along with well-educated opinions – to help make this world a better place. The time for this is not in the future and not in the hands of others. The time is now and the power is within our hands.
One may ask how can we conduct change upon a society that is so vast and that has so many issues that are so complex? The answer – in addition to realizing our own better selves and realizing our compassion for others – is education. The type of education that empowers the human mind and truly encompasses the act of learning. Learning can happen at any point and any day as long as we are open to it happening. As a society, we must be educated on the issues and policies that impact not just us, but all of us as a country and a global society. Only with that understanding can we truly live up to the hopes and ideals that both the United States of America represents and that humanity among all human beings represents. The power of education is one of the strongest forces in our world. As has been alluded to in text, film and rhetoric, our purest treasure is not a material item – it is knowledge; knowledge that we can gain. Therefore, education and learning becomes a driving force in human society. Whether you are bettering yourself for a job, a business, self-empowerment or to further your knowledge in order to make a better decision, knowledge through education (any form – self, experiential, non-traditional or traditional; internal or external) is the most powerful force within human society.
This idea of education must start now – today. It must start with the realization that all of the chaos that we see may never be eradicated, but it can be tamed and controlled to a certain degree. We can control how we react to issues that arise among us. We can control the narrative that deems what is acceptable and unacceptable in society within reason. What we must never do is let what can unite us become the edge of the sword that divides us.
Each and every new generation that walks these lands and sails these seas on this planet must decide which path we wish to go down. Every generation must decide how we wish to define ourselves. Do we let events dictate our destiny and our course? Or do we proactively try to make this world a better place in our brief time on it through our actions? Do we take that step forward or do we wait? Ladies and gentlemen, we are defined by the decisions that we make. Those decisions then impact the path that we head down as a society. If we choose to make well-informed and educated decisions that are guided by compassion, we can discover that the walls that divide us can crumble and allow us to build bridges that unite us. If we make poor decisions – we only succeed in cannibalizing ourselves as a human society and – on a smaller scale – as a nation.
Every era has this reckoning – this moment of truth. I believe that we are at this era’s moment of truth. Even throughout American history, one can see these markings in the passages of time – the American Civil War, World War II, the Civil Rights movement to name a few. One era that this can seem reminiscent of our current state is 1968 – especially so as many major events that impacted history occurred 50 years ago.
As a student of history, one notices a trend that ripples throughout the passage of time. 1968 was a tumultuous one for the United States. Fifty years after major historical events took place upon the lands of our country, we still find ourselves asking the same questions. Who are we? What kind of country do we want to be? What kind of country can we be when we banish the walls that divide us and build the bridges that unite and strengthen us as a people and a country? How do we grasp that dream – that vision – that lies on the horizon, yet within our reach?
I have no doubt that we will realize that dream, reach it and prosper – both as a country and as a global society. Beneath all of the strife, we are made up of good and decent people. We don’t need to look far to find our ability to reach that horizon. We only need to look within the depths of our own hearts. In the final judgement, we are all one. No matter your beliefs, each and every one of our hearts can beat the same rhythm and we can unite with pride, with love and with compassion. There will always be strife in this world, but we are capable of reducing that strife, that craziness to a level where it is not the dominating force in our society.
Fifty years ago in the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. left this world one night after declaring that he had been to the mountaintop and seen the promised land. Fifty years ago, Robert F. Kennedy spoke these words in responding to the tragic events of a day that occurred 50 years ago:
“My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another”.
Later that year, gone too was Robert F. Kennedy – the man taken away by an assassin’s bullet. Those who have left their mark on the passage of time – such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy – may be gone but their message remains.
Fifty years later, many of the questions remain the same – and perhaps they always will as a growing person, a growing nation and a growing society will always be seeking answers to better themselves – but the answer and the hope is still within our reach to obtain.
Who are we? What kind of country do we wish to be? What kind of people do we wish to be? As we reflect on where we have been and make note of where we currently stand, let us look to the future and realize that now is our time to define what that future looks like. Now is our time to act. The power to change the chaos that we see does not lie within the grasp of some mystical force that is beyond our reach. The power to change the world for the better lies well within our reach – for it is within us. We need only to be educated in order to make well-informed decisions. We need only to act with the human decency that I believe resides within each and every one of us. That is how we change things for the better. That is how we realize all of the good things that we currently have and the good things that we can continue to strive to be. That is how we survive and make the world a better place.