By: Ellsee (not her real name)
Famine in Africa, desperate offshore asylum seekers, underground slavery, global warming and the crumbling world economy – such are the ominous sets of keywords that have been drilled into us from young as the ultimate hurdles to ‘making the world a better place’, so much so that chills of guilt and discomfort creep down our spine whenever we think of them.
Yet we can hardly be blamed. For most of us, such weighty issues are so far removed from our everyday lives that they exist as mere concepts in our minds, the actual details of which are fuzzy and indistinct.
Truly, when we think of trying to make a difference, we find that there is just so much to be done that it is mind-boggling to even contemplate on where to begin. This is the first stumbling block for many of us. We must first realize and accept that we as individuals can make a difference, because if we’re not part of the solution, then we’re part of the problem. Everyday there are tiny little ways in which we can contribute – those few cents we decided to save instead of spending on sweets, or that advertisement that we decided to keep as rough paper instead of throwing it away. Even one such person, when evaluated over the course of a lifetime, is no less an activist.
However, our sphere of influence is not limited to our own selves, as there are two main groups of people that we as young people can greatly affect. It is a well-known fact that parents will pull out all the stops when it comes to the comfort and happiness of their children. Hence, if we were to harness this incredible pester power and extend it beyond the purposes of personal benefit, we will be able to bring about even greater changes.
Compared to wheedling our parents into buying unnecessary things, surely it would be easier to persuade them to use the money for a noble cause instead.
The other group of people within our reach are our friends. We have all witnessed the potency of peer pressure when it comes to things like smoking and premarital sex, because we are at an age where we become preoccupied with making a good impression among our peers. As such, the volatile nature of what is ‘cool’ and ‘in’ among the country’s youth can be swayed towards the direction of diligence and thrifty spending, for instance, provided that enough of us advocate them by exemplifying what is good and frowning upon what is not.
With a little effort from everyone, we can transform our current social atmosphere from within and become a force to be reckoned with, even on a global scale.
At the end of the day, it does not take much to bring about positive changes in our immediate environment.
All it takes is a strong personal conviction and effective use of the 4 p’s mentioned above: pester power and peer pressure.
To chicken out in the face of daunting challenges, real or perceived, would only be doing ourselves an injustice. We deserve that much, and so does the wonderful world we live in.