Every last one of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re nine, nineteen, or ninety: we don’t want to do things. We want to be apathetic about the world around us, especially of those things that don’t directly affect us, and while on some matters I whole heartily condone the “I don’t care” attitude, that line is drawn when it comes to current events.
“But, Lily, why should I care about what’s going on in [country on the other side of the world] with [people I don’t know] when it doesn’t affect me?” I’m glad you asked. It matters, because you ought to care about people. You ought to care about suffering and conflicts because they affect people.
And some of you are secretly thinking, “I don’t care about those other people because they’re not in my country or community.” To that I say, stop. Stop thinking like that. You know it’s wrong, so stop. It shouldn’t matter what country a person is from; a Mauritanian or Pakistani should be as worthy of your empathy as an American or Canadian, and therefore you should care about what happens in their communities and country.
You should also care because oftentimes, those things that you think don’t affect you are actually crucial in the big scheme of things, and will trickle down and affect you eventually whether you realize it or not. That issue in the Middle East could drive your local gas prices up (though, I should mention that the United States gets most of its foreign oil imports from Canada and Latin America as not to contribute to the Middle East oil dependency myth). That change of governments in South America could change U.S. trade dynamics and thus affect how much your bananas cost. That fiftieth crisis with North Korea could finally drive China to intervene, and that intervention could cause our second largest trading partner to turn into turmoil, which could in turn find its way to our borders.
The United States is not an isolationist country. We depend and are dependent on so many foreign countries around the world. The international order is as open as it has ever been, and we cannot pretend that we are not connected to each and every person in each and every region. We cannot hold on to the false idea that we, as Americans, are culturally superior to everyone else and therefore everyone else does not deserve our empathy. We cannot use that false idea to justify reckless ignorance because we think we are untouchable.
We, as a people, need to try to be as informed and internationally minded as possible. As a human, a citizen, and a voter, it is of the utmost importance for each of us to pay attention to the wold around us and understand the international order in order for us to make informed decisions.
“But, Lily, I can’t vote yet.” Ugh. You might not be able to vote yet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be informed and it certainly is no excuse for ignorance. You will be able to vote one day, and if you’re reading this, that day is probably very soon, and you need to prepare yourself in advance of that to make informed decisions. Therefore, if you’re old enough to be reading this, you’re old enough to be responsible for being informed and aware.
Need a place to start?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Memphis Teen