Opinion

Butterflies

By LAHARI SANGITHA, junior

We’ve all heard the phrase “show, not tell.” Well, what about “do, not tell?” The power of action is something that we, as a society, often overlook these days. The first step in trying to “be the change” is taking a stand by finding something you truly believe in—something that really angers you and makes you want to exclaim, “That’s not right!” Many would actually stop here; in fact, several of us tend to “like” Facebook pages supporting organizations against world hunger and poverty, yet don’t end up fighting for these causes at a personal level.  It is said that when a butterfly flaps its wings in China, it can cause a hurricane in New York. Similarly, it takes just one person to create an epidemic of social service, of giving back to the community, and of helping those less fortunate. We need to take ourselves out of the mindset that someone else will do the job. Everyday, people are falling victim to the “bystander effect”, believing that someone else will eventually stand up and do what’s right. But why can’t we be these people that set words into action?

Whitney Jones was just fifteen years old when she became a part of Group Workcamp, an organization that helps build homes for the poor and the elderly in West Virginia. The group was first created when 145 people lost their lives in a Colorado River flood in 1976. When this occurred, four hundred teenagers and adults spent that summer rebuilding and repairing the damaged homes of the flood victims. Since then, Group Workcamp has continued to repair homes for the elderly, making them handicap-friendly by creating steps and ramps inside and outside each house. This is truly the epitome of a people-helping-people world, and it all began with the influence of one person.

Similarly, the 2011 Libyan uprising turned into a large scale initiative that was successful only through the efforts of many. Starting with a small revolt in Benghazi, a protest against the unjust government grew into an enormous revolution that managed to usurp the benevolent President Muammar al Gaddafi. Gaddafi hired everyone from sub-Saharan mercenaries to helicopter gunships in an attempt to thwart the protesters– yet they still managed to drive out the pro-Gaddafi loyalists from the city. If these people can overthrow a forty-year regime worth billions of dollars, can’t we find the time to fight against smaller issues? Of course, the Arab League, African Union, NATO, and other organizations helped the Libyans; however, they had to help themselves by putting their foot down to gain the support required to boost Gaddafi out of power.

As one of the many youth of America, I’m not saying that we need to overthrow the government—that’s not even close. But we can assist our local community by helping the impoverished or creating a large scale green-initiative in J.P. Stevens to contribute to the environment. It’s pleasant to see the numerous non-profit organizations that students are creating these days, but it is important to pursue such approaches not just for college-requirement reasons but also for exhibiting personal belief. We typically see that these clubs and organizations often disappear after their founders graduate from high school, a prime example being the No-Smoking club that was introduced to J.P. a few years ago (where is it now?). True dedication can be shown through the pursuing of support through any means. When we bolster our ideas, we must remain loyal to our aspirations. Let us never forget the insignificant butterfly that wreaks havoc simply by flapping its tiny wings.

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