It’s easy to forget we live in a global world. Most of us live relatively simple lives. We wake up, have our coffee, run to work/school and then around five or six o’clock we begin our slow march home where we can finally take off our shoes (aka bras) sit back and relax. But for most of the world such is not the case. It may be strange to ponder, but you are much closer to the one percent than you may think. Your basic needs are met daily. Food, water and shelter, check. And most days you enjoy the benefits of a first-world living, which the majority of the human population can only dream of. You drive to work, eat what you want, drink clean water, watch television, surf the internet and at the end of the day sleep safely in bed that is yours alone.
We forget we are the lucky ones, especially when everything in our culture is telling us the opposite. You are not lucky and you are by no means enough. You need more— buy more, do more, eat more— the cycle is never-ending. And what’s more, it’s damaging. If you believe you are not enough, you are essentially trapped, tangled up in yourself. How can I think about others when there’s so much of me left to fix? This is why it is absolutely essential we remain grateful for everything we have. The reality is you are blessed, you are enough, and in realizing this you are given the greatest gift of all, the ability to look outside of yourself and help others.
Right now a worldwide crisis is happening, one which goes unreported everyday in favor of an endless stream of celebrity gossip. Girls around the world are being kidnapped, raped, abused, sold into sexual slavery, denied food, education and the chance to live a happy life simply because they are girls. In most of the world having two x-chromosomes means an automatic lower quality of life. Why even in our own country women continue to struggle against the age old battle of sexism and inequality. We are not immune to the evils of this world simply because our GDP is larger than most. In America, we still suffer the horrors rape and sexual abuse, and yet there is a marked difference between our rights and those living in the third-world, we are given a voice. Though in our country there remains a stigma around the women and men brave enough to report the abuses which they have suffered— an unjustified blaming of the victim for the evils that have befallen them— at least it can be said they have a voice, or an opportunity to have one.
In an 82-page report released on February 7th, 2013 by the Human Rights Watch, a startling truth was revealed. Children in India are being sexually abused by relatives, friends and trusted acquaintances and with absolutely no path to justice or resolution.
“… Current government responses are falling short, both in protecting children from sexual abuse and treating victims. Many children are effectively mistreated a second time by traumatic medical examinations and by police and other authorities who do not want to hear or believe their accounts. Government efforts to tackle the problem, including new legislation to protect children from sexual abuse, will also fail unless protection mechanisms are properly implemented and the justice system reformed to ensure that abuse is reported and fully prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said.” –New York Times
“In one case, a 12-year-old girl who reported to the police that she was raped by a man from a politically connected family was locked in jail for almost two weeks, the report found. The police insisted that she change her story, it said.” –New York Times
Can you imagine living in a country where you were held for prison in two weeks, without being allowed to contact your parents, because someone raped you. Though unimaginable, this is the reality for so many of the world’s women and children. So what must we do? How can we help, knowing there are those in the world who do not have the power to help themselves? There are three things you can do in your everyday life to bring change to those who seem worlds away: educate, participate and advocate.
- Educate: The first step to helping is realizing there is a problem. Educate yourself, actively seek out stories and reports about the world’s disenfranchised. Sadly, due to the state of our modern media, many of the most important stories are buried under a mound of useless information (aka celebrity gossip, trends and fluff pieces) thus charging you with the responsibility of staying an educated world citizen.
- Participate: So much of our modern technology serves as a distraction from the important things in life, and yet these same tools can be used to make change in our world. Participate in the global conversation of change. Use your Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to make others aware of the issues which are most important to you, be it child abuse in India, the world water crisis or factory conditions in China.
- Advocate: Use your voice. You are lucky enough to live in a country that guarantees you the right to free speech, so use it. Advocate on behalf of those who have no voice. Write to your congresswomen and express your concern, let them know you want more foreign aid to be allotted to the plight of young girls around the world.
And there you have it, three easy steps to change you can incorporate in your everyday life. Remember you are enough and because of that you have the power to help those less fortunate than you. So do your part, use your voice and help contribute to making positive change in the world.
Recommended reading: “Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide”