Half a world away

Dylan Grosser

It’s impossible to know about every single issue happening around the world. Many of us try to stay on top of the news as best we can, but it’s difficult with our busy lives. Not only that, spending time reading about all the different tragedies in the world can be extremely depressing, especially when it feels as though there’s nothing you can do to help.

But what if you could make a difference?

Sure, world hunger, persecution, bigotry, murder, etc. won’t end overnight. But what if one day all the people around the world did everything they could to put an end to all of the world’s injustices? Sounds like a fairy tale? Probably.

Because in reality it doesn’t take the help of the whole planet to right a wrong. In fact, more like the actions of just a couple million, perhaps including you.

Make no mistake, there’s no shortage of suffering in the world.

For example, take Myanmar. In this Southeastern Asian country (known formerly as Burma), there is significant humanitarian crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people. A minority population of Muslims in the country, known as the Rohingya, are fleeing mass persecution by the government in an move that’s being labeled internationally as an act of “ethnic cleansing.”

Thousands have already been killed, including children, by local mobs and government police forces who have left hundreds of their villages burned, destroyed. Many of the Rohingya are fleeing on foot in dangerous conditions to neighboring Bangladesh, causing a massive refugee crisis.

To us though, it’s so far away from our daily lives that it doesn’t seem to make a difference to us whether we helped or not. Besides, even Superman couldn’t solve all the world’s problems. Climate change, the war in Yemen, terrorism in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the internment of transgender and gay men and women in Chechnya and even the persecution of Muslims in China.

The world is a dangerous and brutal place. What could we possibly do about it?

Actually, a lot.

We can talk about it. It seems meaningless, but really bringing attention to issues is the first step in fixing them. Make #Rohingya trending, or #Chechnya, or #Yemen, or #CovingtonCatholic, or #SudanProtests or #Palestine. Something small to show you care. We don’t realize that the wealth of the world is at our fingertips, and that just one small tweet can make a huge difference.

Another thing: donate. Money is tight for me too (I have about $100 in my bank account), but I give at least $5 to my charity of choice every month. The way I’m able to justify this is if I can afford to get McDonalds at least once a month, I can also afford to give that money toward helping someone who really needs it.

Lastly: vote. Although not something you can do everyday, when it does come to that time it’s important to know the foreign policy of our elected officials, because they ultimately have the most power in making change happen around the world.

That’s all the average person needs to do; it’s really not that hard. Some of the most trivial things in our lives we can actually use to help people we don’t even know.    

Right now, Bangladesh is overwhelmed with migrants who need food, shelter and medical help. The government there is struggling to take care of these refugees and need help from the international community. One of the most trusted charities aiding in this situation is BRAC, although the New York Times published an article listing several other charities that are also working to help solve this crisis.

Getting involved can seem like too much, but at times all it takes is a small gesture to make a big difference. I implore you to do whatever you can to benefit something larger than yourself, like helping the Rohingya for example. You can never do too much or too little. Just think of a time when you were down on your luck, and a random act of kindness from a stranger brought you back. Use the privileges living in this country gives you, like social media, money and the right to vote to help real people, even if you’ll never see their face.