The big picture

Sometimes it seems there is simply too much to know.

When I entered university a few years ago, I had the notion I would get to know something about everything or at least everything about one subject. On the contrary, being here has taught me I know very little.

Learning is such a constant that, on a daily basis, there is an incredible amount to be ingested, thought about and develop opinions on–even if you’re not the type of person who reads the paper or watches the news. This is especially true if you are lucky enough to attend university. It’s overwhelming and more than a bit daunting when one considers all the issues out there waiting for someone to take up the cause.

It’s so easy to rest on your laurels and be content inside your small world, where the biggest issues become what to wear and the gossip surrounding you and your friends. It’s sometimes frustrating to hear people complain about such trivial things when there’s so much more out there.

Why are practically all cars still using gasoline when there are environmentally friendly alternatives available? Why does our society seem so backwards when it comes to priorities? Why do people who make us laugh earn more than those who save our lives or teach our children?

We bitch and complain about the quality of education and healthcare and then bitch and complain when funding is increased because we all know that means a little less money in our pockets for six-dollar coffees.

With so many causes out there, where do we start?

Do we solve the problems of our own country first and deal with homelessness, poverty and the baffling dichotomy of children–half eating themselves into life-threatening obesity, half starving themselves into oblivion? Or do we turn our attentions to the less-developed world?

For many in so-called "third world" countries, eating daily isn’t even an option. Problems like global warming, the continued extinction of rare animal species, the extinction of many ancient languages, the continuing languages of racism and hatred–I am overwhelmed by all of this. The more I discover, the easier it is to want to throw up my hands and do nothing. It feels as though it would be impossible for one person, even one thousand, to make any sort of dent in the face of such overwhelming odds.

So why do people still try? Why are there so many out there willing to put it all on the line and devote their lives to crying foul, keeping governments and corporations in line, and giving voices to those who aren’t heard? Why bother?

Because we can. Because we are in a position to make a change. It is possible for me to write these words and have them printed, for you to pick up a paper and read them freely, to make up your own mind instead of being told how and what and with whom you are to think.

Sure, it sounds like a bunch of hippie talk, but it’s possible and it’s happening. And the more I learn, the more I realize you have to start somewhere.


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