Editorial 12/8: Taking control of the new year: Using action to find stability in a chaotic world

By the Editorial Board

Holy mackerel, what a year it has been. For America and the rest of the world, the winds of change have been blowing from every corner, bringing new media, political agendas, common values, styles of communication, and median temperatures. While some of these changes have definitely been positive ones (see: powerful men falling out of power), it might feel like the whole world is a-rollin’ downhill. “There goes the Earth,” you might say, “going up in flames thanks to climate change and environmental degradation!” Hey, you certainly wouldn’t be wrong. Times are definitely changing, but what can we do about it?

Perhaps, nothing. You as one person cannot possibly fix the global economy, feed all the hungry, or impeach an angry president. You cannot put out the fires in California or stop hurricanes from ravaging Puerto Rico. You certainly cannot stop powerful countries from building up their nuclear arsenal, but it would be cool if you could. As a You, you can’t do anything, so as a You, you’re going to have to learn to live with the chaos of the changing world.

We here at The Griffin hear you ask, “How am I possibly supposed to cope with the world right now? How can you, disembodied journalistic voice, expect me to settle into this monstrous world?”

Well, dear reader, the answer is simple: you just have to. And by that, The Griffin means, you just have to do what you can do.

Here is some good news for you: you are alive to read this article! As an alive person fortunate enough to attend school, work at a school, or spend time in an environment of learning, you hold more power than you can even imagine. This power is not external or fantastical, as there is a great chance that you’re not reading this will simultaneously levitating the objects around you, but it is still magical. You have the power to choose.

You have the power to choose to be a better person. While you cannot relate every single global refugee to a safe, stable environment, you can volunteer twice a week at the multiple refugee support centers in Buffalo. While you cannot eradicate childhood hunger and homelessness, you can visit after school programs and play with kids a few times a month. Hey, instead of taking your car to work today, carpool with a friend! You can’t stop climate change, but you can reduce your own personal carbon footprint.

Everyone likes control, thrives off of it even. When the world feels out of control, it’s easy to slip into a place that forces you to think that your own personal life is out of control as well. Then once you are in that place, it’s even harder to get out. The deeper you go into your own despair, the higher and harder you’ll have to crawl to pull yourself out of misery.

Hey, some more good news: it’s never ever too late to make yourself a better, more conscious person. When you stop worrying about what the people around you are doing and start realizing that you are the only person you can control, you will feel much better.

But let’s be honest, you’ve heard this all before, haven’t you? “What else do you have to offer me, floating voice of someone else in my head?” you ask. “There’s more,” the floating voice answers.

Talk is cheap, you know, so when you set goals for yourself to start to take control of the chaos of the world, you have to prepare for the inevitable pushback from your own self. After three weeks of working with refugees, you might convince yourself that what you’re doing is completely useless. After one of the kids at the after school program tells the volunteer supervisor that you were mean to her when all you were trying to do was make her sit down and do her algebra, you might get discouraged. Serving food at a food pantry is fulfilling until you start to ask, “Why do so many people not have food?” Here is where the real fun begins.

When you start asking these questions, reader, you will have entered into the second phase of your journey of internal control of external chaos: the need for personal externalization.

Here is where you might start to get mad. But this time, your anger won’t be focused at Trump or at the various men that will inevitably fall in the new year, but rather it will be focused at the systems that allow these tragedies to happen. In beginning to ask “Why?” instead of “Why me?” a whole new world will open up to you. This world will be less about quenching immediate thirsts for stability, but more about seeking out justice.

This stage on control will pose a whole new set of problems because you’ll be forced to examine how you personally fit into the injustices that you are now fighting so hard to eliminate. By examining systematic inequalities, you will inevitably find that you are part of the system.

However, the reality that you will find yourself potentially in the wrong does not mean that you are a bad person. In fact, it means that you are more aware of your place in this world of chaos and will then be able to change your personal actions to a way that suits not only your well-being, but also the well-being of more people who need to be looked out for.

In the new year, we at The Griffin urge you to embrace your discomfort with the changing times. Instead of letting your instability push you into despair, harness it and let it take you on a search for justice. Examine how you fit into the systems that make you angry and change your behavior in the ways that you can. You might only be one person, but you can make sure that your life is being lived in a way that you want to see others live theirs. Big changes are made up of multitude of many singular people choosing to live differently.

So, here’s to hoping 2018 will be less chaotic than 2017, but when it’s not, here’s to hoping we can handle it. The Griffin wishes you, your family, and all of the Native Americans whose land we stole a happy holiday season and a love-filled New Year. Stay woke.

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