IT’S SO EMOTIONALLY DRAINING TO BE ‘WOKE’ THESE DAYS BUT STAYING INFORMED AND SPEAKING OUT IS MORE OF A NEED THAN A ‘TOXIC TREND’
As they say, ignorance is bliss. And when you're in a country at constant disarray and unrest, there's no bigger temptation than to just stop caring altogether. But, we're here to remind you something you've known all along: indifference does nothing to change the state of our country and the world—and it won't do anything for your troubled heart.
It goes without saying that things are a bit of a mess right now. There’s always something on the evening news that will break your heart, a trending topic on social media that will aggravate you, and the ever-present knowledge that some things are just too complicated to change in one night, or perhaps even one lifetime.
All our problems as a nation and society have seemingly come to the general agreement to strike harder and fiercer amid this global pandemic, with every issue hitting us at lightning speed, on all fronts. It’s unclear if these problems have always been this intense and aggressive, or if its ferociousness and urgency doubled as we view it stuck in our homes, feeling more helpless than usual.
But while we all grappled with the reality of our indefinite quarantine, and seeing our worst national nightmares unfold in real life, one fact became glaringly clear: it’s mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically, draining to stay informed all the time, and even more so to care so much.
Perhaps it was privilege that allowed us to maintain our sanity on top of all these existing social issues pre-COVID. When we had places to go to, people to meet, and other responsibilities to occupy our time and mental space, it was a lot easier to take in the news, and push it aside afterwards to go about our daily routines. It sounds horrible, but it was a lot easier to pretend that things were okay when our little bubbles haven’t yet been burst with sharp pins called “COVID” and “lockdown.”
It wasn’t that we didn’t care enough about what was happening. Social media trending topics, and real life conversations with friends, teachers, and co-workers would prove otherwise.
But we must admit that all our responsibilities elsewhere and the requirements of the daily grind occupied our brains to the point of distraction, allowing us a lot more time throughout the day to remain in blissful ignorance. Only to open our box of concerns during lunch breaks, or particularly interesting course discussions.
These days, however, with only our homes to entertain us, and the responsibilities of virtual classes and remote work to occupy us, there’s a lot more time to think, and a lot more space to feel.
So, each day since the beginning of this long-lasting lockdown, we’ve been in a constant state of reflection and heightened emotional sensitivity as we fail to have our usual distractions by our side. In fact, even if you would want ignorance, everything’s just too dire and grim to ignore these days, that ignorance feels somewhat of a social crime.
And then, each day, a new issue (or an already-existing issue, viewed in new light and meaning) would surface and resurface, allowing us with nothing to do but sit there, and feel the worry and anger brewing.
Injustice after injustice, abuse after abuse, and all these threats pointing at us from in and out of the country—who wouldn’t feel tired after experiencing all that?
Of course, with awareness and knowledge, comes the desperate urge to do something about it. But after a year of constantly feeling this way, and seeing no difference despite the youth’s consensus to speak out and fight, it feels all the more disheartening when we realize that it might not be enough to catalyze real change.
So, again, we ask, what now?
The answer, as you would suspect, lies in the promise of change as an inevitable by-product of incessant purposeful action and passionate advocacy. The realization that change will only truly happen if we continue to seek it, and fight for it.
Yes, it’s depressing to stay informed, stay socially-aware, and “be woke.” But turning a blind eye and seeking complete ignorance only allows these issues to continue. If all of us and all our youth leaders make the decision to stop caring, these exact incidents will only happen more frequently, and will only trouble us more intensely with the knowledge that we’re simply letting it happen.
It’s mentally-scarring to know so much and care so much, but trust us when we say that it’ll be even more depressing to know we’re not doing anything about it. Because, whether you like it or not, it will one day affect you. And all that running and seeking ignorance will amount to nothing when the problem’s right at your front door, and happening directly to you.
As draining as being socially aware is, our country’s future truly depends on it. Change—real, “for the better” change—will only happen if we make it happen. And this will only be possible from continued awareness, and action.