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Knowledge Before Change

By Reona S. and Marlo F., Student Reporters


​Loretto Abbey students at the United Nations in New York City

This morning, Kiya woke up to the smell of breakfast and the sound of birds, while Nadja and her family had been kept awake by the sound of gunshots and the whistle of sniper bullets. Their situations seem vastly different and disconnected, but aspects of Nadja’s life could easily be changed with a little help from Kiya. With greater understanding of our world, we can make a difference for those living in warring or impoverished countries. All it takes is a little awareness and a desire to change.


To illustrate, a small Indo-Aryan ethnic group, the Rohingya, are currently facing a crisis. The ​Rohingya, who have been pronounced stateless since 1982, are currently residing in Bangladesh after a barbaric case of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Between October of 2016 and June of 2017, Burmese authorities killed over 1,000 Rohingya civilians after an incident on the state’s border. The United Nations is currently working on providing aid for the Rohingya refugees. As small as the Rohingya population may seem, it is important to recognize their plight. Even if their persecution may seem to have nothing to do with us, we must recognize that they are people who have been stripped of their humanitarian rights, and we – especially through our government – have a duty to protect them.


We may not always be aware of it, but worldwide events cause a ripple effect and affect all of us, either directly or indirectly. An issue such as a delayed flight may have been caused by a storm taking place in an area in between you and your destination. While you and fellow travelers see this as a nuisance, those in the area of the storm see it as way more than just an inconvenience. By being aware of the causes of these troubles, we will be able to re-evaluate how we react and realize that maybe, just maybe, our situation isn’t as miserable as it could be and our energy could be put to better use.


Knowing what other citizens in other countries can or can’t do, have or don’t have, will change your perspective on what you have and what you have the privilege to do. Those who don’t go to school can’t complain about it like we can. Children who don’t have enough food can’t relate to our leftovers-for-lunch troubles. Young girls who are already married don’t have the same boy problems we may have. Did you know that almost 750 million women alive today were married before turning 18? These are serious issues that people all over the world are currently addressing. We need to increase our awareness and lend our voices and hands to help make the future one that is better.


The biggest reason to be globally conscious is that the knowledge we gain will be of great use in the future, whether it be in a week or a couple of years from now. Today’s conscious students can become directors of change in the future of our ever-changing world.


Being aware of what’s wrong in the world may motivate you to choose a career path. Founders of ME to WE, Craig and Marc Kielburger, started their organization because they learned that there was an opportunity to help others around the world. They were aware that there were children labouring in factories and kilns, and those living on the streets in South Asia. Are you aware that 200 million children today are child labourers, 73 million of which are under 10 years old? The world doesn’t magically get better on all its own. If, by the end of high school or university, you notice that an issue has been present since you were in elementary school, invest some of your time in the matter. It’s worth it.


As we are young, we need to learn from past actions and events. It is also our responsibility to learn from society’s past mistakes. But we need to go beyond the obvious. Yeah, don’t invade Russia in the winter, but also don’t aid in the marginalization of those who most need our help. In fact, you really should look into your current leaders and ensure that you are aware of their policies and hold them acountable for their actions, especially when actions do not help those most in need.


Being aware of what potential leaders will do with their power towards other nations and communities will affect whether or not they are voted for by the majority. Knowing who you’re voting for is important. Reading and watching the news on a regular basis will add to the information you have on politicians, which will make it easier to choose whose name you cross off on your ballot.


Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one people will be voting for. Perhaps you’ll improve the lives of the misunderstood, mistreated, and marginalized. Perhaps you could improve the lives of children like Nadja. But the first step is being globally conscious. We all want some form of change, but in order to have change, we must first know what it is that we are changing.