Since I've been working all weekend (at home) I've watched more television than normal. So I had the benefit of catching Senator Obama and Senator Clinton's speeches today at churches in Selma, Alabama at services commemorating the 42nd anniversary of "Bloody Sunday"--the voting rights march in Selma, Alabama where tear gas, cattle prods, and billy clubs were used to stop the march participants from reaching Montgomery in a bid for voting rights. It's called Bloody Sunday because there was so much blood from the brutal abuse the nonviolent participants endured at the hands of the police. A second march successfully occurred two weeks later courtesy of the protection of a federal court order and by the they reached Montgomery there were 25,000 participants. This march ultimately led to the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.
And as I was listening, I wished our generation had such a clear calling, meaning a social ill that is so obviously wrong that we were spurred to action. Obviously I don't actually wish for a horrible injustice to pop up (although arguably the people who are still suffering as a result of Katrina would be such an example), but I suppose I wished I felt impassioned enough about our existing social ills to do more than what I've done. Tutoring at an underprivileged school or in the projects for a few hours a week or doing Big Brothers Big Sisters just doesn't seem significant, especially when I think about what some of my family members have done to promote equality.
In middle school I was very much concerned by social issues, attempting to get my school to not use styrofoam containers and the like. But at some point, I sort of gave up. I didn't think I could change the world anymore, and it was sort of depressing to think about all of the things that needed to change. I guess I lost my idealism.
As I've thought about all of this today, I've realized that we do have significant social issues today that need to be addressed (especially when you think of us as being part of a global society). Those ills are simply out of sight and out of mind for me more days than not; my life is exceedingly easy. And there's a part of me that wonders what can I do about the lack of adequate health insurance for millions of Americans or the fact that our schools are so underfunded that elementary school counselors can't even get to all of the children who exhibit signs of abuse. When I read or hear about all of these injustices, I briefly feel enraged and then just defeated or saddened by it. And that's the part of me that just wants to push all of this out my mind with the excuse that I can't change it anyway and/or that I can't do more than I already do since I have a full time job. And yes, that's a lame excuse.
p.s. Who in the world buys Ann Coulter's books?