What direction are we going? by Rich Paschall
My closest friend lives in France and is one of the nicest people I know. He avoids conflicts and always has a sunny disposition. I could sing his praises all day and yet, he surprised me with a facebook post recently. It was totally out of character. He exclaimed, “Fxxxxd up world…” He said nothing more. It was the day of the massacre in Paris of 12 at the French satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo. It sparked a massive manhunt and additional killings in France.
The proliferation of terrorist attacks, the wars and various conflicts around the globe, as well as the accusations against police, make the day’s news disturbing at the very least. Scandals and corruption stun us. Political hijinks appall us. Societal polarization dismay us. The daily news offers little source of comfort.
Recently I followed back someone on Twitter who followed me. Her followers in turn followed me. Unfortunately, this led to a group of thugs and rappers that have absolutely no respect for anything, In addition, there was a substantial number of young men posting the most lewd and disgusting opinion of women (ok, they did not say women, exactly). Worse were the women who followed them. I had a year’s worth of disgust posted to my Twitter feed over a few days. Yes, I followed back everybody, but then had to unfollow many.
All of the crap in the news and on social media feeds can certainly lead one to a low opinion of humanity. When you couple that with some of the unsettling news of recent times, you can surely conclude that the world is “going to hell in a hand basket.” as my dear departed mother might have said. Yet, there is a ray of sunshine in the dark, dank and depressing depth that humanity will sometimes find itself.
Voices are rising up from the streets to shout out a more encouraging word. It comes from society’s young members. I have mentioned before the comments of young rapper Prince EA in This World Should End and In Search of Peace on Earth. Consider this rap:
Rapper An0moly was surprised when some social comments on facebook became his most viewed video, despite the many he has on You Tube. Now he comments in his street wise style:
Young You Tube blogger Alfie Deyes turned his nearly 5 million subscribers onto this anti-bullying song from another You Tuber:
You Tube and social media sensation Tyler Oakley hoped for the second year in a row to use his birthday to get his subscribers to raise money for The Trevor Project, fighting teen suicide in LGBT youth. His goal this past year was 150,000 US dollars. He raised over a half million according to The Trevor Project’s web page. He is not the only You Tuber to raise money and awareness for social problems. Many have turned the social media spotlight on causes around the world.
Screenwriter, director Dustin Lance Black teamed up with British Olympic diver, Tom Daley, to raise money. Half going to Black’s charity, Human Rights Campaign and half to Daley’s charity, The Brain Tumour Charity. Daley lost his father to a brain tumor before he could see his teenage son carry Great Britain’s hope for a diving medal into the 2012 Olympics. Black promised his now deceased big brother that he would fight for LGBT equality, and so he has. The two raised a quarter million dollars with one contributor rewarded with a trip to meet the young men in London:
Fundraising organizations like Omaze and Prizeo have teamed up with young stars to bring awareness to social causes and raise money for charity. A Who’s Who of social media and entertainment stars have joined forces with organizations to better the world. “The Ian Somerhalder Foundation aims to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet.” Matt Damon and Ben Affleck put their star power behind Eastern Congo Initiative and Water.org. Jennifer Lopez gave all contributor of 20 dollars or more a chance at meeting her to benefit American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Club of America, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Of course, the money rolled in. I could give you many examples of this.
From the streets to the studios, from the stages to sports, from Main Street to Manhattan, young people, You Tube and Social Media stars, rappers and performers of all kinds are rejecting the message of violence and offering up positive responses. The news will give you plenty of reasons to despair. Plenty of youth will give you reasons for hope. They raise money, they preach nonviolence, they hold out for something better. Sleep better tonight, they hold out light in the darkness. There’s Hope In Front of Me.