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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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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5 Thoughts You've Probably Had About The Government Shutdown If You, Like Cardi B, Are Paying Attention

I'm not sure if Trump thinks he's playing a real-life game of "The Sims," but I can assure you that a wall will not keep out those that are truly determined to get in.

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2019 — what a time to be alive, am I right? Normally I would use that phrase sarcastically, but each day I am more and more confused, transfixed, and curious (with just a dash of anticipation) about our current state as a society and the direction we're going. Even though most of the time the world seems like sh*t, you've got to admit that out of all the times in history, the current one we're in has a lot of cool perks. I mean, 70 years ago, who would've guessed that there'd be computers and a world wide web filled with endless information and apps that allow 125 million people to see cute pictures of Kim Kardashian's baby. And compared to life in the 1600s, an airplane seems just as extraordinary as the second coming of Jesus.

We're making a lot of wonderful and exciting progress, like our advancements in medicine, but for some reason, we've hit an impasse in terms of social improvement. Not even three years ago would I have guessed that the U.S. would elect an unqualified, most likely racist, reality TV star as president, but alas, here we are, which brings me to his latest antics.

The government shutdown.

Despite how bleak the future seems, a little part of me is just a tad grateful that I'm alive to see this all go down. Like everyone else, however, I've had quite a few thoughts about it all over the past few weeks...

1. So we're screwed, right?

We briefly had a government shutdown in 2013, but for some reason, I have absolutely no recollection of it (my 14-year-old self was probably too preoccupied with who was posted on my high school's Instagram "thot page." Spoiler alert: I was), so this is like my first experience dealing with one. There have been more than a dozen in U.S. history, but the current shutdown is the longest out of the list. My first thought when hearing about the news was "what the hell does THIS mean?" I immediately jumped to the conclusion that we were in a total state of anarchy, but of course, that isn't even partially true. According to The Balance, a government shutdown is "when non-essential discretionary federal programs close." The shutdown doesn't affect state social services, like the Department of Public Safety, and thankfully for us broke college students, funding for financial aid was approved last September, meaning there's no current effect on student financial aid programs.

However, federal services and agencies like the IRS (don't get too excited... you still have to pay taxes), Department of Labor, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Institute of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration are completely shut down while the budget process is in limbo. With no current end in sight, this is bound to get very bad, very soon.

Already, hundreds of thousands of government employees have been sent home without pay and will continue to not be paid as long as the shutdown is in effect. People living in low-income housing may be evicted as HUD freezes funds for programs. Without funding, all of these services very well may close. Not only that, but the shut down is costing us money: approximately $1.2 billion every week. I wouldn't normally be worried, but Trump is the exact type of immature and petty to where he'll keep this going until he gets his way (or he's impeached, whichever comes first). His attitude firmly suggests that he's not backing down, and if services do close, there will be terrible effects on affected departments and citizen well-being.

Should we just drink the kool-aid now?

2. All of this over... a wall?

Out of all of the things that a president could request funding for, the one we currently have wants $5 billion for a damn steel wall? I'm not sure if he thinks he's playing a real-life game of The Sims, but I can assure you that real humans are much more crafty than we give each other credit for and that a wall will not keep out those that are truly determined to get in. Trump has said that the wall is the "only solution for a growing security and humanitarian crisis at the border," yet common sense and many politicians/organizations can tell you that that's complete and utter bullsh*t. Not only that, but Trump's whole presidency has revolved around quelling illegal immigration, but no one has stopped to ask why he's only focusing on the border.

How would a wall decrease the number of people who overstay their visas? How would it decrease the number of illegal immigrants who aren't even crossing the border?!

While I am not well-versed in how much of a threat illegal immigration presents to the U.S. people and government, I still am convinced that there are way more important issues that the president should be concerned with. F*** global warming and renewable energy, let's build a wall, right?!?

Trump's obsession with his wall is a pathetic attempt to flex his self-professed prowess and a way to appease his hate-filled fanatics who only voted for him because he promised he could get it done.

What happened to Mexico paying for it? Oh right, that was just more bullsh*t.

3. People actually donated to this sh*t?

I just... People's stupidity and callousness never cease to amaze me. Before GoFundMe rightfully shut this fundraiser down, over 345,000 people actually donated $20 million dollars for a (wait for it) steel wall. Why is this the thing that people feel their money is worthy of being spent on? Imagine if we all banded together to raise $20 million dollars to help end homelessness or food insecurity. Or better yet, pay the federal employees who are getting screwed over by this whole ordeal.

4. How do Trump supporters feel about all of this?

I know that die-hard fans can take a lot of sh"t from their idols, but I think that after a while it's only natural for them to get fed up. Out of the 62 million people who voted for Trump, there's probably a good portion of them who are significantly affected by the shutdown. The ones who are government employees are feeling the brunt of it now, but if this continues on for months or even years like Trump is threatening, then we're all going to feel it and I can't think of any good excuses that someone could come up with in order to justify such a foolish and reckless decision made by the president. To a federally-employed Trump supporter, I can't imagine how it feels to go 26 days without a paycheck because the president you voted for is desperately trying to propose funding for a wall that you want to be built. It's got to be a catch-22, but hell, I feel like almost all Trump supporters are delusional anyway, so they're probably thinking they're undergoing some grand act of martyrdom.

5. Even Cardi B is worried... Now you know we're screwed.

Cardi B took to Instagram recently to post a video of her addressing her worries about the government shutdown. While not eloquently put, the rap princess is really only just voicing the thoughts and opinions of a lot of us out here. If Cardi B is taking the time out of her day to stop popping off at her haters and fantasizing about Offset's peen, then you know that this issue is a pretty big deal. The self-proclaimed gang member and boss bit** has admitted that she's scared. I think that warrants us to all be.

Well, there you have it, folks. Five of my most pressing thoughts about the government shutdown. As it continues, I'm sure they'll be thousands more that pop into all of our heads. But hey, let's look on the bright side -- we've made history; now's the only time we can say the government has been shut down all year.

Hopefully, we won't be able to say it for much longer.

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