My world view got more focused this summer. Not in the sense that I know more specifics about politics or how to end world hunger. But it’s like I can see the world more clearly as I have grown to understand that not everything is black and white.
I learned to the importance of being critical instead of just skeptical of the systems. I believe that skepticism is rooted in not believing in a system’s ability to succeed or to benefit you. However, skepticism offers no constructive feedback to a mode of change because it spirals into apathy as we stop caring about and supporting systems that don’t recognize us. It’s easy to not care about and to not believe in systems because it prevents us from having to deal with disappointment when we can’t make the change and progress we are fighting so hard for.
On the other hand, I believe the notion of being critical is rooted in acknowledging the strides a system is making, while also questioning the narrow avenues of progress certain groups have to endure. Criticism requires one to be engage in building a better community, a better world, and ultimately, a better system. This summer, I learned that in order to be critical, I can’t sit around being angry at the world and complaining about systems that I continue to implicitly reinforce. I have to use my voice and platforms to uplift grassroots movements and communities. I have to use my mind to imagine a better way of life without being restrained by the limitations of this current one.
As I return home, I feel like a bouncing ball of potential. I feel like I’m filled to the brim with possibilities. I feel like I have overdosed on positivity and gotten as high as Cloud Ten. And there I sat wondering how I was going to get the rest of the world up there with me. Then, I got overwhelmed by the magnitude of problems that I couldn’t just blow away. Eventually, I calmed down and realized that I can still make significant strides in my personal life as well as my campus community. With that said, I plan to build programming and initiatives to help low income, first generation students which I will call the First Gen Collation. And, in my personal life, I plan use the new ideals of restorative justice and mediation to figure out what justice looks like for me without blindly relying the problematic systems of punitive justice.