I am on a mission to save the world. I really am. I don’t mean I am going to solve all of the problems in a weekend, or even in a lifetime. But I am going to try and create as much positive impact as I possibly can. And maybe, just maybe, help save the world for one or two (or a thousand) people.
As I sat around on 4th of July answering text messages from friends seeing which party I would go to, getting emails from my mom asking if I would be BBQing with my friends to celebrate the independence that so many of us take for granted, it was hard for me to explain to them that I was actually not thinking about either one of those options. I was researching flights and costs to get myself and a film crew to North Africa in the fall. I am going to Tindouf refugee camp in Algeria. I am not exactly sure what I’ll be doing when I get there, but that is not always the point. How can I know what they need before I talk to them? How can I create impact without getting knowledge and experience, then trying to find out what resources and relationships I have that might help? I can’t. So I must start at the beginning.
I must engage.
I never thought this is what I would be doing on a 4th of July. I never thought I would grow up and want to save the world. When I was younger I just wanted to play music and drive a fancy car. I wanted to be rich and famous and travel the globe and just play. And now here I am, preparing to go sleep in a hut for 3 weeks in order to gain some knowledge, and hopefully, help some people that will most likely never know me or see me or have any idea that I ever even existed. What happened? When did my goals change, and why? I wish I had an answer for this, I don’t. I just know that I am happier now than I have ever been. I have found something to believe in and something to aspire to. I believe in us. I believe in people. I believe in coming together to help the collective, the greater good.
I turn on the TV and see a reality star turned president tweeting and TMZ in the primetime. My friends and colleagues, many of them can tell me the names of quarterbacks on sports teams we support for leisure, and resort destinations in the Bahamas, but I wonder can any of them name a single refugee camp? Even more bothersome to me, is that I couldn’t tell you a single one by name until recently. What took me so long to find out? According to the most recent data provided by the UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency) from June of 2017, there are over 65 million people that have been forced from their homes, over 22 million of them now live in a refugee camp. These numbers are staggering. And of those 65 million, only 189 thousand have been able to be resettled. That is less than .003% of them. Think of that, take that in, remember that as we look at our country, and our generation, and the fact that all we can seem to talk about is a bigoted president’s Tweets.
When the tide of history washes over us, what side do you want to be on? I want to be on the side that helps create a world that is better for all of us, not just the ones that are born in rich countries. When you celebrate holidays like the 4th of July, let’s not forget those in countries that cannot celebrate anything, places where women cannot vote, or drive, or go to school. Let’s not forget about child soldiers, and modern day slavery and human trafficking. Let’s not forget that all change, big or small, begins with a conversation and a shared belief that progress is possible. Not all change comes quickly and not all change moves slowly, but it does all begin somewhere, so why not here?
The world is bigger than us, and we don’t need anyone except ourselves to make an impact. We just need a willingness to wake up and engage every single day. One person can change the world, and if you don’t believe that, then do me a favor and “hold my beer.”