Barefoot: What will you contribute to the revolution?

Abigail Barefoot

As I end my junior year, I am in the process of thinking about graduate school and what I want to do with my life. I know what I want to do with my life, and that is the easy part. The question I struggle with is the how.

It’s a question I see everywhere, but no one seems to have an answer. In the future I want to help people’s lives. The cause isn’t important, what is important is finding out the best way to help people.

How can someone truly impact another individual life and make it better? How can I help create change?

I think about working with the government to help create policies and laws to better help people who need it, but the system seems slow and ineffective with policies never making it past sub-committees or being held back by unnecessary pork. With so many problems, and so many needs and loopholes, how will the common person be helped? Elected officials say so much, but sometimes it seems like little of their talk becomes action. Law allows for reinforcement and change to be implemented, so it’s not all bad. I agree that people should know the system to help fix the system, but is law the best way to solve the problem?

Then I look at the power of writing and wonder, can silly columns in newspapers, huge books or blogs really make an impact for people to open their minds or their wallets and help out? As the saying goes, is the pen mightier than the sword?

Sure, words can inspire and help spark change, but in today’s world with so many opinions and so many issues, will those words be enough? So many people seem to distrust the media, saying it’s biased or has its own agenda or is just out to make money; will they take my offer to help seriously? Do words inspire action?

What about working hands on? Is going out and working with a community enough to make a difference? Will helping just one small place be enough, when there are several thousands more places that require assistance and might never get it? Will there be enough manpower and resources available to help the people long-term? Will people follow in the footsteps of others to help lend a hand?

There is always education, but how do you educate people unwilling to learn? Those who are too busy texting or stuck in their own ways to open their minds — how can people reach out to them? Does education necessarily lead to more action or does it allow for people to see the problem, but chose not to act? Can you really learn in a classroom without experiencing it firsthand? Will people forget once the class is over? How can we educate without isolating others’ thoughts and ideas?

Money is used to solve problems and to help, but will donations make the problem go away when so many people need help? Does money make a person change their ways? Not to mention the corruption in some organizations where money disappears from the cause and into certain people’s pockets. Will money disappear when the camera stops rolling on the crisis and everyone has forgotten?

Actions speak louder than words, or so I am told. But do petitions and sit-ins really make change? Do they stop behavior for good or just the action? Will one petition or one protest stop things from good? Do action make people take you seriously or will they continue their own beliefs? How many people or signatures does one need to be taken seriously?

This could relate to any problem or cause you can think of. Gay marriage, fair trade, religious freedom, sex education and world hunger are just a few. Surely there is not one clear-cut solution to finding the best way to help people. But at the same time, no one person can do everything. It is a continuous struggle, just because someone has made progress doesn’t mean that progress will last. There are successes and there are failures for every type of helping.

I don’t have an answer to any of the questions I posed. All I know is that one person can spark a movement of change, but it takes masses of people to truly make a huge difference. It won’t stop me from making small differences in people’s everyday lives, because I know by doing that, I could change that one person’s world.

The final question I pose is, how will you help for your cause’s revolution?