Beyond Our Front Door…

I realize that the majority of my posts have been about stereotypical twenty-something issues with an extra focus on shoes; it is the prerogative of youth to act our age, however there is a time and place for everything, including the issues that nobody my age wishes to discuss. It is a common mistake, I know I do it too… I have kept my mouth shut when the right thing was to speak out, but never mistake silence for stupidity. As a young woman in 2006 I may not always say what is on my mind, but that doesn’t mean that I actually don’t have anything important to say.

My generation is notorious for our lackadaisical attitudes towards others; not caring what happens so long as it doesn’t happen to us. We’re unaware or worse, disinterested in the goings on of the world outside our social circle and at most outside of our sphere of influence. The “why should I care what happens?” stigma, I feel, is unfairly placed upon all twenty-something’s, at least myself and a good number of twenty-something’s I know. The confusion or misconception lies in the fact that although we are aware of what is going on in the world around us, we don’t quite know how to deal with it yet, or what we should or should not do about it. Contrary to popular movies that claim otherwise, twenty-something’s don’t think that they declared peace in the Middle East, we know that AIDS is real not just because Alicia Keys told us so, and that in comparison to 20-30-40 years ago the world we live in is a very different place. So to all the “adults” who look down upon my generation as a group of know-nothing-know-it-alls I say this: we’re conscious of our environment beyond our immediate friends and family; it’s just hard to make a stand on our principles when those in power aren’t listening because it’s already been decided that we don’t know anything. How can those of us who want to change the world if the world right now doesn’t acknowledge that we want to?

I bring this up because of the recent news article about the alleged bombing plot on 10 UK to US flights and other potential acts of terror that seep over the Atlantic Ocean into the back of our minds. As a frequent and already petrified traveler I find this news especially disturbing, not because I plan on flying in the near future, nor because my family, my father especially, tends to fly quite often. No, this disturbs me because as a human being in an insecure world, news like this should disturb me, despite it being about perfect strangers one continent away from my cozy cubicle in a safe (for now) country. I mean, one would have to be REALLY selfish or really removed from reality if a news article like this doesn’t affect you in the slightest. We’re social creatures: we all know somebody who flies/commutes/works/otherwise lives their daily lives. Some call me paranoid for being frightened, my mother to be exact, even though she herself hates flying; I’ve had friends and relatives remind me that you are safer in a plane than in a car, that the chances of this/that/the other actually happening to you are slim to none and every other cliché you can throw at me… but clichés are another topic that I’ll discuss later. Either way the end result was the same; I was scared before, and now I am scared stiff.

I guess its human nature, not twenty-something nature, to not want to think about events or happenings that has the potential to cause us harm or danger or anxiety, or to rationalize it away like my friends and family have tried to do in respects to my fear of flying. And personally, when I catch myself thinking about the social issues that will eventually effect my work, like AIDS in Africa, the ridiculous price of easily made pharmaceuticals to third world populations, and the overall lack of funding and attention my field received despite performing a critical function within society, I find myself frustrated at the external loci of control that for the moment is making all the decisions about topics I care deeply for. So what does one do? If I kept thinking about it eventually I’d find myself in a state of helplessness, that even after I get my degrees and experience and the skills necessary to make a difference I would have convinced myself through years of thought and doubt that no matter what I do or who I do it to, nothing will change. The idealism of my youth and the passion that drives me would have been crushed a slow and painful death by the distorted reality of the forty/fifty-something’s opinions on the current world we occupy. So I stop thinking about it all the time until the day I can actually do something about it, more than the monthly donations, the volunteer work and the education I give myself that keeps me close enough to make it real, but far enough to let me focus. To everyone outside our heads this seems pretty selfish, like we’re ignoring the problem, but we’re not. We’re just waiting for our turn.

Isolationism didn’t work for the States cerca WW1 and WW2; as hard as they tried to ignore the problems that were occurring a world away because in the end, geographic proximity doesn’t matter in the modern world. We are free to move about, as are those who wish us harm. We know that. We painfully, obviously know that to the point where we know-nothing-know-it-alls don’t know what to do. And for a stubborn independent twenty-something, that is not a good feeling.

But if you’ll excuse me, I have to go board my flight.

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~ by Carrie on August 21, 2006.

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