By Victoria Mescall
I was sitting in class when I heard it. I was scribbling down notes, nodding at the professor, when he said, “What we pay attention to is what is important to us.”
When I heard it, I stopped writing. We pay attention to what is important to us.
What we choose to care about varies from person to person. But that’s just the thing, we choose to care. It’s active, not passive.
Words matter. Voices matter. And we have to care. Someone has to care, because everyone matters.
They say print is a dying industry, and that journalism is the job of any man or woman with an iPhone and internet access. But it’s not.
Journalism is more than a craft. It’s history. It’s the truth. And it matters now more than ever.
The next time you take a shower, I want you to remember how lucky you are that you won’t get sick if the water coming out of your pipes gets in your mouth.
The next time you leave your bedroom light on when you go out, because “I pay 50k a year to go here I don’t have to shut my lights off,” I want you to remember how lucky you are that the light switch working is a guarantee.
It has been years since Flint, Michigan has had clean water.
And when the Puerto Rican athletes marched out in the Olympic Parade of Nations in opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang, South Korea Friday night, the commentators reminded all of us watching at home that 20% of the island of Puerto Rico is still without power following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
Imagine showering with bottled water. Try heating it up on the stove so you can wash your hair and your body.
Imagine having to wait in line to buy bottled water to shower with, to wash dishes with, to drink.
This isn’t the tale of some third world country. This is Flint. This is Michigan. This is the United States of America. This is just over 700 miles from SHU.
Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They vote in our presidential elections and they send a resident commissioner to Congress. But a fifth of their country doesn’t have power.
When the Wi-Fi on campus goes out, or WebAdvisor crashes, students are on the verge of rioting. They haven’t been inconvenienced for 5 minutes, these people have lived 5 months in darkness.
But since we have lights above our heads and safe water in our pipes, we don’t have to care. But we should.
We don’t have to wonder what war is being fought on the other side of the globe or what injustices are occurring to people we consider “other.”
We as Americans have the luxury of not having to wonder. We as college students have so much privilege – economically and intellectually. There are people who would kill to be in our place.
It is important to recognize these facts. It’s important to pay attention. Because the world can change. But change depends on what we chose to care about.