In Elizabeth Elliot’s biography of Amy Carmichael, she writes, “The preoccupations of seventeen-year-old girls – their looks, their clothes, their social life – do not change very much from generation to generation. But in every generation there seem to be a few who make other choices.”
I want to be one of the few.
This is a wide, wild world that we live in, with despair and agony ironically juxtaposed with hope and ecstasy. And yet, it is so easy for the majority of American young people to turn away, to choose to ignore the great injustices of the world, to instead care solely about the relational conflicts within their comparatively small circles of acquaintances. Their often sub-conscious decision is understandable – why should we choose to dirty our hands in the affairs of a violent and menacing world when we can so readily tune out financial, political, and spiritual dilemmas with our iPods and PSPs?
My generation, perhaps more so than others, has been placated by material comforts and physical wellbeing. We – and I am no more innocent than the rest – are too used to having everything handed to us on a gilded tray. Why should we risk anything, why should we embark on any dangerous adventure? We are not acquainted with the reality that some beauty, some truth, and some goals are worth potential disaster, are worth staking everything for.
A child’s murder, a family’s emaciation, a woman’s ravishment – these things are inherently evil and must not be tolerated. My relatively wealthy peers and I have the potential to enact so much reform in the world. We have money, we have educated intellects, we have political freedom, and we have a rich history of entrepreneurship and true leadership. What is holding us back besides our own self-imposed ignorance and apathy?
My heart’s desire is that my life will mean something. Perhaps I won’t recreate the political arena abroad, but perhaps I will help to bring healing to a battered woman’s heart. Maybe global poverty isn’t something I will solve, but maybe I will organize a food drive to keep those in my community well fed.
This desire cannot be accomplished, however, if I sit on my couch and read, or go on the computer and check my Facebook page. This desire, if it is to mean anything, must be equated with a series of practical, real-life choices. I must choose to give up certain endeavors and instead focus my time on others. I must choose to educate myself as best I can, to read extensively and to be informed. I must choose to act in a mature and responsible way, to help solve problems and to not create them.
In short, I want to be one of the few that re-ignite this world with wonder, beauty, and hope.