There are many uncertainties in my life at the moment. I find myself thinking about the future more and more each day, sometimes to the extent that it keeps me up all night. What am I going to do with my life? How am I going to afford a place to live? How am I going to look after my parents? Questions like these circulate around my head daily. Yet, there’s also another set of questions that are on my mind. What is wrong with the world? Why are so many people forced to live such difficult lives? What can I do to help? There is no doubt we are living in a time of great inequality. No matter how hard a person has worked for their riches, I find it hard to justify how a CEO of a company can make more money in one day, than an employee of that same company can make in one year. No matter how carefully you obey the law, it is simply inexcusable that a person is more likely to go to jail if they are Aboriginal or African American. For many people, the quality of their life is predetermined at birth. If we want to achieve true equality, we must recognize and remove the barriers that prevent people from pursuing a dignified, meaningful and happy life.
Identifying a problem is one thing, but figuring out how to solve that problem is a totally different issue. Unfortunately, we live in a world where greed and the need for power has created a climate of hate and misunderstanding. Economic insecurity has turned people against one another, and dangerous ideologies continue to pass from generation to generation. Despite this, I still believe that we as a people have more in common than we do that separates us. We are all on the same journey, the only difference being the path we take. The question is, how do we make that path towards happiness equitable for everyone? How do we unite each other and combat the injustices we see every day? I do not know the answer to these questions, but I do know they start with You.
No matter who you are, or where you come from, there is a cause in this world that resonates with you. For those of you who believe that there isn’t one, or you haven’t found it yet, I believe it is your moral responsibility to keep on searching until you find it. Whether it be economic inequality, the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples, the presence of prejudice and racism, or the consequences of climate change, there are others out there who are already fighting for justice and need your help. The examples I have used only highlight a few of the many injustices we face today. I am not asking you to be involved in every cause, or every battle, that would be unfair and is frankly impossible. I am asking you to fight for a cause that you are passionate about and have an understanding of. A strength of ours is that we all have experienced this world differently. Our experiences inform our decisions, and although someone else may be driven to fight for women’s equality, or LGBTQ+ rights, or criminal justice reform, we are all united in our quest for justice everywhere.
The most important step in becoming an effective advocate is becoming educated and informed about what you are fighting for. This is where I find myself right now. We will never stop learning how to better ourselves, but we must establish a firm and solid foundation of knowledge that we can build on. There is no perfect way in doing this, but to understand the root of the issue, I believe we must understand the people who are involved with the issue. This includes people who are directly impacted by injustice, and people who have dedicated their lives to fighting injustice. In many cases, these people are often the same. It is up to us to put ourselves in the position to learn from them and master our ability to help. I am not claiming that I know all the tips and secrets to becoming an effective advocate. I am still in the process myself. But from the conversations I have had with people, I know that all of us have either experienced or seen something that was so profoundly unjust, so unfair, and so wrong, that it still holds a place in our heart.
John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, famously said during his inauguration speech, “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country”. To simply rely on democracy to bring justice to all those who need it, is irrational. Democracy, in all its glory, is imperfect. If history has taught us anything, it’s that real change requires ordinary people like you and I to come together and fight for a common cause. Do not doubt your greatness, to do so would be an injustice to yourself. Your thoughts and ideals have the ability to change the lives around you and create a better world for everyone. However, they require action, and they require you to fight for something.