I want to make a difference, but I don’t know how. I want to know about the world so I can stop being an ignorant American.
I know that I have a voice, and I want to use it to capture the attention of others and call them to action. I want to give myself to a cause, and I want to understand it through and through—the politics of it, its global relevance, why it is worth my life’s dedication. Unfortunately, I don’t know where to start.
In high school, I loved three things: my friends, sports and having fun. I was the center of my universe. As far as I knew, the world stretched only as far as my eye could see (and my eyesight is so poor, I joke about being blind).
My knowledge of the world began to expand as I got involved in a homeless ministry in Los Angeles, but I still had tunnel vision. I knew the Lord had given me a fierce love for these marginalized people, and I thought, since I had discovered this passion inside me, I had “arrived” and that was as far as it went. I see now, though, that I was only scratching the surface.
Now that I’m in college and allowing my worldview to rapidly swell, it’s happening so quickly I don’t know what to focus on first. I’m learning bits and pieces about corrupt governments, brutal wars in dozens of countries, human trafficking even in the United States, unjust treatment of migrant workers, and the powerful influence of the media on our daily lives.
I’ve attended lectures about environmental integrity and the role of the United States in Mexico’s drug war.
I’m conversing with Spanish-speaking immigrants about their firsthand experiences with discrimination and devastating stereotypes.
I’m pursuing friendships with self-proclaimed liberals, vegetarians, vegans, hippies, feminists, aspiring lawyers—people who really want to change the world.
And I do, too. I have been learning so much about Jesus’s love for all the world’s different types of people, and I want to love them like he did. I want to make a difference in their lives by actually being part of them, not by throwing my money at them or using my Western privilege to simply give charity while still living a comfortable American life.
I understand that the first part of making this difference is to be informed, and I want to know so much. Never in my life have I wanted to learn about things so badly! I want to read, I want to go to lectures, I want to discuss these things late into the night with people who see the world in interesting and challenging ways.
I’m discovering, though, that it’s really hard to get started. There is so much to keep track of. Meetings take place and decisions are made every single day, and there’s always new knowledge to obtain.
No event can be taken simply at face value—context and historical relevance must both be considered before an event can be fully understood.
I feel like I’m so far behind. I spent high school playing sports while my North Park friends were becoming artists, learning to care for the environment and spending time in Germany’s red light district.
Since I feel like a baby (in terms of cultural maturity), it’s easy to get discouraged and feel overwhelmed with how much there is to learn. Sometimes it’s tempting not care, but I want to get swept up in this wave of knowledge and let it change me.
I don’t know how many people reading this desire the same things. Maybe you already know a lot about the world, and for that I applaud you. It’s not easy being an informed person, as illustrated by this column.
For those of you who have even a spark of an interest in foreign affairs, nonviolent resistance, environmental ethics, or any of the hundreds of other things happening in the world, but just don’t know where to start, do not fear. I have some suggestions.
In my media studies class, we are learning to become “media literate.” We are taught to maneuver around the smattering of bias in the media to find the truth and make our own interpretations.
It’s impossible to gather pure fact by looking to a single source. With that said, please keep in mind that the sources below may not line up with your beliefs or political ideals—but that’s OK.
To gain a full, unbiased view of the world, one must expose him or herself to a wide array of interpretations. You don’t need to conform to these beliefs, but by simply knowing that they exist, you are widening your worldview.
These links are good places to begin learning. While it is each citizen’s responsibility to inform him or herself, I just thought I’d give a few options for those who are interested.