WARNING: I am coming down from a manic episode and have not organized my thoughts yet. This blog is all over the place, so skip to the end for the TL;DR please.
As my roommate knows (thank you, again, for taking time out of your LSAT studying and talking me down), I had a bit of a manic episode last week. (I don’t throw around terminology like this but I literally almost started building furniture at 11 PM because I had so much energy and my mind was racing a lot more than it usually was. It scared me, to be totally honest.)
Something about reblogging photos and Tweets from Ferguson on Tumblr all night and reading about the ISIL execution video triggered it. I had a few casual conversations during the day with some friends that led up to my mania last night. I just started feeling a nagging feeling of restlessness. One thought keeps racing through my mind:
There is something I can do. There is very little that I can do about Gaza or Ukraine or Ebola or Iraq or Syria but HERE, in my own country, there must be something I can do.
The problem is I don’t know what it is that I can do, and there are a lot of personal obstacles in my way. For example, a short while ago there was a rally in DC to show support for action in Ferguson. I wanted to attend but the rally was being held at Howard University, an HBCU (historically black college/university). I felt like as an Asian American, could I even attend? Would I get stares? I don’t think of Ferguson as a “black problem”, and I certainly don’t think that the responsibility of action falls squarely on the shoulders of the black community.
But my need for social approval and acceptance overrode my need to demonstrate.
That bothers me.
This is a significant turning point in my life, friends. I have been calling people out for their inaction for too long to not have a significant body of action of my own. I am a hypocrite and I no longer want to be.
Let me be completely honest: My altruism, as is true of all altruism, stems from selfish desires. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to rid myself of the feelings of restlessness that are brewing inside of me. I long to be an active participant in our world.
HOWEVER, if everything we do is for selfish reasons — and I believe this to be true — then it sure is a nice bonus if our actions benefited other people in addition to ourselves.
This is why I did not participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I donated but I did not post a video. I donated to the ALS Association as well as to a few of my favorite water charities, because I think the waste of water is needless. I’m weighing out how important it is for me to post to social media about these things. How many people am I calling to action? How many people care?
Where is my energy best spent?
I’m still grappling with a lot of this. My thoughts aren’t fleshed out. I struggle with issues like this because I have a hard time seeing the forest and the trees at the same time. In one moment, I’m trying to take in the vast expanse of forest and in the very next, I’m concerned with one bug crawling along one tree. Trying to think about both isn’t something I am capable of doing right now.
I was telling my roommate about this, mania in my eyes I’m sure, and started talking about physics. Politics boils down to economics, economics boils down to psychology, psychology boils down to biology, biology boils down to chemistry, and chemistry boils down to physics. (Which I guess boils down to mathematics.) It’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around the situation in Gaza when I am sitting here thinking about the electron spin of an atom within a neuron in an Israeli teenager’s brain. (When I tell interviewers I am good at seeing the big picture, I’m not being entirely truthful. When I tell them I am detail-oriented, I am holding back.)
My mind races thinking about these things. My blood pressure spikes. I don’t know how to describe it but the only way I can articulate it now is this:
Imagine you suddenly could feel the Earth spinning below your feet and hurtling through space. Gravity is only holding you to the surface for so much longer but you are about to go flying. THIS is the potential energy that I can feel, that of myself gripping onto the memory of a society that isn’t imploding as today’s is.
I am ready to act.
I just need some guidance right now.
TL;DR Recent events have made me want to do a lot more than slacktivism, a lot more than posting angry things to Facebook. I want to be a much more active citizen of this world that I live in and I am currently seeking help in doing so.
Please let me know if you know of ways that I can start being a more active contributor to our world. I am currently most keen on what I can do about the situation unfolding in Ferguson, MO, but I am invested in a lot of issues right now, not least of which are the ones I spewed above.