There was a time when my world was much simpler. My greatest fear was my favorite TV series getting cancelled and my anxiety revolved around the possibility of my beloved football team losing. I was fixated on who was dating whom and what movies were playing on the nearest theatre.
Well, that time is over. No longer will I be indifferent to the world that exists outside of my bubble of indulgence, I promise you.
It started last year when my Twitter timeline looked as if it was on the verge of exploding. The British part of it was hashtagging Brexit, the American part mentioning Clinton and Trump, and the Indonesian part shouting Ahok. I saw this on a daily basis, and I would’ve stayed in my blissful ignorance, scrolling past them, had the news not been overwhelming. Finally, I began to click on the article, one after another. By the time I finished reading them, I asked myself: “Why am I beginning to care?”
There is always a voice in every article we read that urges its readers to either reconstruct or reconsider their standpoints, and, if possible, take some action on it. One article may say “vote for A”, while another “vote for B.”
As readers, we have the power and the ability to pick which one of the information is worth believing in. This ability to pick what to read, to choose what to believe in, to know where we stand, could only be polished by the habit of reading.
The three current global issues I mentioned above are proofs that the reluctance of reading could cost you a better future. Yes, experts might have argued for the importance of Britain to stay in EU, the way celebrities were endorsing Hilary. And, true, much more people showed up in Women’s March, compared to the underwhelming crowd in Donald Trump’s inauguration. But those who were not seen, who did not vote, and who chose ignorance outnumbered them all.
In November, after it was announced that Trump had won the election, my lecturer and the whole class had a thought-provoking discussion. She is married to an American man and is about to apply for green card in the US after her teaching term is over. She asked us what we thought of the US election result, and most of us said that we were afraid because we had no idea what Trump is going to do once he’s officially POTUS.
She smirked and said, “Not everyone is afraid. In fact, the majority of Americans are happy about it, like my mother in-law, she hates Obama.”
A friend asked, “Why does she hate Obama?”
“Because she’s racist,” she simply answered. “Isn’t it ironic that she hates Muslims and colored people, but has a brown-skinned Muslim woman as her daughter-in-law?”
My lecturer’s mother-in-law is racist because she’s consumed by prejudice, but once she has gotten to know the person she is supposed to hate because of her religion and race, it turns out that even she can be accepting. Her story proves that there is a possibility for a racist to not hate people of different race or religion. There is a chance for a xenophobe to be kind to foreigners, and there is a probability for the conservatives to respect the values of the liberals and vice-versa, if only they are willing to get to know the other side.
The millennial has always been deemed disaffected and apathetical towards the world. In our defense, we live in a digital era where everything is accessible, and yet everything is a source of distraction. Why should we read a whole book when we can google the synopsis? Why should we bother reading a long article, when we can generate likes, attention, and connection just by showing what kind of breakfast we’re having? Why should we care about the world when we can be the center of it?
Some of us become writers without having read; we become speakers using intuition rather than facts. Because we don’t read, we are stuck in the same cycle of ignorance; because we don’t read, forever we stay unaware of and uncaring about what’s happening in the world.
The moment I began reading about the world’s biggest issues of the day in those articles, I started to care because I have begun to understand. So, let’s start small. Try to understand in any way you can: by reading books, articles, news reports – everything. If you have understood, make a stand, stand up for what you believe in. And then vote.
And once you’ve finished reading, share the information. Because the sad truth is that often the fate of our country, of our democracy and of our lives lies in the hands of the uninformed, the illiterate and the indifferent. It’s about time we change it.
Anninox is a student at Universitas Indonesia who has just discovered her interest in politics and her belief in cultural movements. Her life revolves around English football, movies, and writing.