A Better World Begins With Me

People of the world,
I have something to tell you.
I’ve had enough of human suffering,
Of man-made problems,
Wars and genocides,
Abuses and suicides,
Greed and thievery,
Racism and slavery,
For they all share a common root,
Being a purely human concept of wretchedness.

No, there isn’t a magical solution to fix all problems,
But we can be better individuals,
To our surroundings,
To our families
To our friends
And neighbors
To our fellow citizens and strangers,
And to ourselves,
Because the world is crumbling right around us.

How can we make as though we’re concerned for those on the other end of the planet
When our immediate surroundings are in disarray?

If black people have to fear the law that’s meant to protect them as they walk or drive,
If people still think they’re superior because of the color of their skin,
And not the contents of their character,
Then it’s no surprise we stand divided today,
instead of united,
In these here United States.

If we turn a blind eye to victims of sexual abuse,
And let predators roam freely among our most vulnerable,
If we allow for slavery to exist in our own backyard,
If children are treated as chattel,
If women are treated as man’s plaything
Why should we be surprised that there are over 46 million slaves in the world today, almost entirely women and children?

If we allow hate to fester at every level of society,
And allow intolerance to grow like a cancer,
Why is anyone shocked when they see beheadings and terror?
If people can’t live peaceably in their homes all over the world,
If people stand a better chance of surviving by fleeing and risking a drowning death,
Why are we in disbelief when hate-wars spill over to our streets?

If we’re sending more kids to prisons than to schools,
If we’ve turned filling jails up into a profitable business,
If we reward those who break the law while wearing a suit,
And then throw the book at those who can’t afford one,
Why should we be taken aback when discovering that inequality exists?

If the few can horde the resources of the masses,
If humans can never get beyond tribal strife,
Then it should surprise no one that so many have nothing to eat or drink.
Or where to sleep.

We may not, perhaps, agree on why bad things happen,
And we don’t have to,
But we must agree on what we,
the “good people,”
can do to make a difference.
We must agree that a humanity that can send people and probes to ever further reaches in our galaxy,
But cannot figure out how to inspire all to live with the simplest idea ever concocted: to live and let live,
is an utter waste of cosmic potential and a failure of the human project.

We must agree that as cliche as it sounds,
“if we’re not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.”
That’s a fact.
Elie Wiesel said it best when he said
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

Enough is enough is enough.
Enough suffering, and pain.
Enough racism and intolerance.
Enough brutal deaths and robbed innocence.
Enough hungry bellies and thirsty mouths.
Enough tears of sadness, and sorrow.
Enough wars and memorials,
Enough indifference and apathy.
Enough passing the small and big problems off as someone else’s to deal with.

It’s easy, even reasonable, to look at the world’s troubles,
And say “there’s nothing I can do about it”
But micro actions have a macro effect when reaching a critical mass.
The first step towards action, is thoughtfulness and awareness.
The more we’re aware of our own passivity in the face of the world’s trials and tribulations,
The more inclined we’ll be to take responsibility for the world around us.

Join me, please, in committing to ‘being the change we want to see’ to paraphrase Ghandi,
so that together we can make Martin Luther King’s “dream” a reality.

Instead of complaining about the world’s problems and the inevitability of manifest evil, let’s take responsibility and declare:

#ABetterWorldBeginsWithMe

This story "A Better World Begins With Me" was written by Israel Bitton.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

A Better World Begins With Me

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close
Close