The overload of information surrounding war, human rights and genocide can be overwhelming, but Americans cannot turn a blind eye to these injustices.
While the feelings are uncomfortable and unpleasant to have can affect people’s mental health, it isn’t a reason not to educate yourself.
For many reasons, the U.S. has been perceived as a selfish country. Since Americans aren’t facing these injustices, we tend to shut off access to the information because it’s hard to watch or hear. We forget these are people facing real tragedy, and if we avert our eyes, we can’t change anything.
While the mental health of Americans is important, so is the mental health of a person who is overseas struggling with the possibility of being killed.
But what is lost with this is the fact that many people facing tragedies cannot shut off what is happening to them because they are literally living it. They are in it. Americans can’t be ignorant of what is happening because although many things are hard to hear and look at, willful ignorance is unacceptable.
The most dangerous part of not living in imminent danger is the privilege of it. We don’t realize that while we’re worried about the homework that’s due tonight, others are worried about whether they’ll live through the night.
Willful ignorance is how genocide after genocide, war after war, propaganda after propaganda is fueled. It is understandable that certain things like killing, violence and abuse of power are hard to watch. People are human, after all. Seeing these heinous acts is awful, but we need to see the reality of other people’s lives to be fully aware of the world.
The nuance to this conversation is also applied to those who are affected or who have families that are affected. It’s insensitive to think everybody should act regardless of their situation. For instance, people who have families vehemently opposing their views may not be in a place to help.
We can’t expect the average American to do anything beyond contacting their representatives, the White House and protesting. But at least this is something.
Do something. Do anything. But don’t be the dumb American the rest of the world assumes us to be.
Issues surrounding voting, the upcoming election, racism, colorism, genocide and war are happening around us.
It is just as important to be aware of current events as it is to take a history class. It is mandatory.
The everyday struggle of an average American is not lost either, especially if one is from a marginalized community. Their struggles and fight for equality are ongoing. Those communities and their struggles are valid, but we can still go home and be so enveloped in our own lives that the lives of others seem too complex. Too big. Too much to handle.
Having an overwhelmed perspective is how nothing, whether it be in Tarrant County or on another continent, gets done. Nothing changes.
We are in an era where news and resources are readily accessible by the tap of a finger, so saying “I don’t know” or “I don’t know whose side to be on” is unacceptable too.
It is an advantage, and we must use it so that others don’t just see Americans as ignorant. They see us as educated and unwilling to be complicit. Saying something is better than saying nothing, action is better than inaction and being ignorant is no excuse.