SEATTLE — When I first came to The Borgen Project around four months ago I was unsure of what to expect. I made the trek to the downtown Seattle office, the red brick building scattered among various coffee shops and restaurants, and began my journey as an editor for an organization with a vision to end global poverty.
Throughout my time with the organization, I have learned about the political process, about working in a nonprofit and about the failures and successes of managing a magazine and blog. I honed my knowledge of AP Style, created a newsletter and read content from a team of writers throughout the nation with a drive and passion to use their words to educate people about the ills of the world.
Now, on my last day with The Borgen Project, I have one last message for all of you: do not give up. Do not stop writing, do not stop educating and especially, do not give up in the fight to make the world a better place.
The world is a place of endless beauty, it is a place of cultures, languages, diversity and peace. It is a place of laughter, a place of tranquility, a place to explore and grow as we try to find our place within it all. But, the world can also be a place of ignorance, of hate, of crushing inequality.
Throughout my life, I have grappled with this oxymoron; I simply could not understand. How could someone exude such hate? We are all people, and regardless of religion or ethnicity or sexual orientation, we all want to create happiness in this world. We all have family and loved ones and hopes and dreams.
Yet, ignorance fuels this cycle of hate. Ignorance of other groups allows people to turn their backs on people different from themselves; ignorance allows people to remain closed-minded and judge instead of listen. Ignorance, I believe, is the main instigator of war and violence and killing and abuse.
Two and a half billion people lack access to improved sanitation; 101 million children do not attend primary school; 4 million newborns die in their first month of life.
The numbers are startling, yet that is all that they are – numbers.
We need to hear their individual stories; we must hear their individual stories if we are ever going to truly change the world. We need to end the cycle of ignorance and instead educate ourselves to understand their struggles.
Only then can we really create a tangible difference.
In the United States, many of us are so lucky. I know I am: I grew up in a loving home, in a safe neighborhood on a cul-de-sac, in a school district where my teachers constantly pushed us to achieve greatness and pursue our dreams. I never had to worry about where my food would come from, or if I would have a roof over my head. I never even questioned the possibility of not having clean drinking water or being forced into child marriage or war.
And obviously, not everyone in the developing world faces these struggles. In the countries we constantly dub “poor” and “third-world” people have infrastructure, cities and a way of life that, while different than ours, is not necessarily bad. Conversely, the United States, the global superpower of the world, still has immense poverty and inequality.
Yet, there are places where these struggles are an everyday concern. And it is these people we must seek to better understand if we will ever create a better world for future generations. We cannot classify them as third-world, we cannot assume the “West versus the rest” and we cannot support a discourse of a far-off place where the people are poor and unable to provide for themselves.
Foreign aid is crucial for decreasing global poverty, and if the U.S. spent $30 billion each year, world hunger could be eradicated. But, while these funds are essential and we must continue to pressure Congress to pass poverty-reducing legislation, we must also change our views to better understand others.
We, the “West,” cannot help the poor from a position of privilege — we cannot assume we know best. The local people know what they need to better their situations, and thus we must listen.
In the U.S., we remain in our bubbles of comfort; we are so invested in our own lives and struggles that many never expand beyond their boundaries to pay attention to the poverty that devastates certain parts of the world.
Yet, as long as we continue to remain silent, as long as we remain in the luxury of our own lives, we will also continue to exude the ignorance that allows violence and hate to persist and magnify.
So, on my last day, my message for readers is to never stand on the sidelines. Go out and create the change you want to see in the world. Go out and talk to someone from a group or culture completely different from your own. Go out and volunteer at a homeless shelter. Go out and meet with your Congressional leaders. Go out and challenge societal assumptions to become educated and gain the skills to tackle global abuses.
And, for the writers out there, bring a voice to the voiceless. There are so many human rights abuses committed everyday, yet they are never brought to the surface. As the mainstream media continues to produce the headline’ stories, the sensationalized news that will generate the most buzz among viewers, nobody ever hears the stories of those who silently suffer. Their voices are never heard; they never have a chance to better their lives.
We all have the ability to change the world, whether we are impacting one person’s life or thousands. Do not be afraid, and do not be discouraged. Yes, the world is a place of inequality, but remember, it is also a place of absolute beauty.
Nobody deserves to suffer. Nobody deserves to experience hate. We are all human beings.
– Nicole Einbinder