The Time Is Now: How Watching A Documentary Turned Into A Call For Action

The Time Is Now: How Watching A Documentary Turned Into A Call For Action

Our daily chores and duties oftentimes distracts us from working on our true goals—but now is the time to put an end to the destructive cycle.
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There is a difference between ambition and dedication: the laziest person in the world can also be the most ambitious. Ambition describes an intention, an aspiration. Dedication describes commitment to that aspiration. Without action, ambition is irrelevant. It does not matter what you want to accomplish, it matters what you actually accomplish. To be successful is to be dedicated, and to be dedicated means to be active.

We all have things we want to achieve. However, how many of us are actively striving towards achieving it? How many of us are making time for our goals? And I don’t mean small goals, like losing ten pounds, I mean life-changing goals... goals that if accomplished, will leave a lasting imprint on our lives and the world. We all have them, even if they’re buried deep down within ourselves, nestled underneath doubt and fear. For one person, it may be to find the solution to world hunger. For another, it may be to start a vegan-friendly chain of restaurants. Each and every person on this Earth has a desire to do something amazing.

We have these desires embedded deep into our hearts, but we don’t have the passion needed for them to flourish. We want to make them a reality, but we don’t need to make them a reality. We don’t want food every day, we need food every day. It is our driving force, our sustenance. When we think of our goals, oftentimes we think of them with distant regard, as something that we will eventually accomplish.

But why not now?

Why don’t we see fulfilling our life goals as much of a necessity as eating three meals a day? We don’t hold off on feeding ourselves, we make it a priority. In our busy lives, we get sidetracked. We have to work, go to school, make time for our family and friends, and complete a multitude of other duties, which means we leave our most demanding goals on the backburner. We think to ourselves: "Developing that business plan can wait until the weekend, I have a paper due tonight” or “Finishing that novel can wait for a couple of months. I have to find a job.”

I get it. The majority of us don’t have the means to dedicate all of our time to focus on achieving our end goals. I surely don’t. My most important goal is to develop a non-profit organization, but I don’t believe I’ve even formed a plan for how I will accomplish that. Social activism is extremely important to me, but you won’t see me at any marches, protests, or volunteering with any organizations. I’m too busy with school, too busy trying to have an active social life, too busy trying to make money. I tell myself I’ll eventually start working on it… But when is it ever the right time?

The time is always right, but we will never act during this time until our desire transforms from a want to a need. In the famous words of Eric Thomas, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”

I attended an event last week at the Douglass Student Center on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus. We watched the Kalief Browder documentary and later had a discussion about solutions that can be implemented in order to spurn prison reform and put an end to systemic racism in America. If I had to choose a single event that had the greatest effect on me, I’d have to choose watching that documentary with my peers and other members of the New Brunswick community (even if this event just happened recently.)

It was as if my eyes were opened. What the hell am I waiting for?

I see the injustice in my community, I see the injustice in the world, and the desire to fix it has been burning inside of me for years. My anger has grown, my pain has grown, my frustration with the world has grown… but I haven’t done a single thing to accomplish something that is so important to me. I haven’t done a single thing to banish this system which destroys lives and crushes the opportunity for all people to assert their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I haven’t done anything.

And that is not OK.

Yes, my grades are important. Yes, my social life is important. Yes, making sure my bank account doesn’t drop below -$5.50 is important, but so is saving my community from impending destruction. Honestly, it may be more important, and I can no longer be stagnant in my fight towards this.

None of us can afford to be stagnant anymore. None of us can afford to neglect what is important to us anymore. What social activism is to me, is what fashion is to someone else; or music; or acting, etc. You get the point. We all have something we want to accomplish that means so much to us that it determines our whole character, our whole sense of being, and we can’t allow this something to burn out and be diminished by our daily duties.

Our goals come first, not because we want to achieve them, but because we need to achieve them to live the fullest life possible. I don’t know about anyone else, but I cannot allow myself to live my whole life and never develop that non-profit. And I hope the girl that wants to be an actress doesn’t live her whole life without ever performing on broadway. And I hope the guy who wants to be a fashion designer doesn’t live his whole life without having his collection shown during Paris Fashion Week.

I no longer will allow myself to think of my social activism as something I eventually want to do. It will be something that is a part of my daily life because it matters, and nothing should stand in the way of that. Whatever it is that sets your heart on fire, that nourishes your spirit, I hope that you decide to make time for it from here on out. And don’t half-ass it. See your goal and go after it, even if you’re only taking baby steps. Dedication is not working to achieve something as quickly as possible. It’s just commitment to make sure you take every step needed to get there.

Ask yourself: If I'm not working on achieving my life goals right now, then what am I doing?
Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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