My Responsibility Is My Reason
It was the start of the semester and for two weeks I had vastly underestimated the weather predictions for the daily temperatures. This day was no exception. Despite my efforts to exert as little energy as possible, bullets of sweat continued to fall off my body at a record pace as I sat in front of the UT Student Center. Luckily, there was a constant stream of activity to provide some distraction from the overwhelming heat.
Tables were set up all along the edges of the crowded walkway, promoting every club and cause imaginable. At every booth, there were ecstatic individuals who were there to answer any and all questions about their groups. I sat there for an hour watching these groups try to get bystanders to listen to why their mission was important, or at least persuade them to come to a meeting. The reaction was mixed — some students stopped to listen, maybe even argue, but most people continued on their walks with little care.
I was so enthralled by this exchange between the diverse makeup of beliefs and the range of reactions from bystanders that I did not even realize a large group of friends had gathered at a nearby table. It wasn’t until they all began to banter loudly that I noticed their arrival. They were criticizing some of the groups they had seen around the quad, making fun of the groups’ members and criticizing their methods of action. Finally, after complaining for 20 minutes about the various global issues the groups addressed, my friends ended the conversation with the general consensus: “Whatever … it’s not like they’re actually going to help.”
I sat there in utter disbelief, shocked and confused by such pessimism. Looking around the quad, all I saw were earnest individuals trying to ignite some sort of action and passion within those around them. Trying to inspire others to do something. The problem was not with what the groups were doing, but with what these cynics were not doing.
It is so easy to feel paralyzed with doubt and discouragement when you think about the immensity of injustice that occurs in our society. Sometimes we think that it’s too big of a problem to make an actual difference. But really, I want to assure you — IT’S NOT! It is every small decision and every daily action that creates huge shifts. We often forget the power we have and what immense good we can bring into the world with it. It is dissected into all parts of our everyday life — as consumers, as citizens on local, national and global levels, and simply, as persons.
We can choose to buy products made by artisans who receive fair wages and work under humane conditions. We can voice our concerns and push for fair legislation. We can act guided by morals and stick to the true human tradition of connection. The important thing to note is that these are all things we can choose to do.
Therefore, I challenge you to free yourself of any doubt you have about your ability and choose to do something. Anything. It is your responsibility to use your power. Let your actions speak louder than your words.
Taylor Foody is Education and Outreach Intern and on the Marketing Committee at Ten Thousand Villages. She majors in International Relations and Global Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.