Recently I watched a video by Benjamin Cook, a British Youtuber I’ve become fond of, that is a part of his Becoming Youtube series. (Btw, I highly recommend watching that series as it is absolutely amazing.) This video, titled “The War of the Word” was groundbreaking, to say the least. I want to say it’s a charity video, because at its basic level it is, but it doesn’t feel like one to me. He partnered up with an organization named Oxfam that took him to a camp in Jordan for Syrian refugees. Obviously the point of this video is to get people to donate to them so they can help make the camps in Jordan cleaner and more comfortable for the refugees, but it also helped to shed light on the situation there. Here’s the video in case you can’t bear to leave my precious blog:
In the video, Ben also talks about Project for Awesome, which is a project where “thousands of people post videos about and advocating for charities that decrease the overall level of world suck. As a community, we promote these videos and raise money for the charities.” (This is directly from their about page.) This past December they raised close to a million dollars, which is incredible and unbelievable. And it’s for great, wonderful causes. There are so many opportunities and places to donate to, to help someone else out, to give. But how likely are we to give?
I mean, speaking personally, sometimes I get this overwhelming urge to help and make changes in the world, but I often find myself in a position where that isn’t possible. It reminds me of that saying by Desmond Tutu that goes
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
And that relates to the accusation of neutral people sitting idly by while others are enacting a reign of terror on helpless people. I sort of feel like that when I see things like the situation in Syria or any other charity cause that is trying to spread awareness and get people to help out. I’m not neutral, though, I’m decidedly angry. And I’m not idly sitting, my legs jump with agitation and my hands type away on my keyboard in distress because I am not in a position to help. I feel like I’m being neutral because I can’t help how I want to and that, in basic terms, sucks so much. It’s like I’m in an argument with someone who won’t listen to me and all I’m doing is closing my mouth and trying not to snap at them.
And even though the majority of these charities and organizations have some variation on the whole “If you cannot donate to our cause, please share this video/article/image in order to spread awareness. Your contribution is just as worthy as a donation,” IT STILL FEELS LIKE ALL I’M DOING IS MAKING OTHER PEOPLE FEEL AS HELPLESS AS I FEEL.
But that’s not the only thing keeping me from helping. I’m obsessed with myself. I’m narcissistic. Look at me turning this post about helping and selflessness into one about myself. But it’s completely true. I care so much for other people, but that doesn’t even come close to how much I care about myself. It’s not necessarily in a vain or conceited way, but rather in a way that if I see things about myself that I don’t like, I drop everything I’m doing in order to focus on bettering myself.
I’m a teenager. Granted, I’m at the last year of teenager-dom, but I’m still figuring myself out. And I want to figure myself out before I do anything else. It’s at the top of my priority list and Syria, unfortunately, has to settle for a close second. And excuse me for saying it like this but that feels really shitty. I am an able-bodied, middle-class American with the resources to help others in need and I can’t take a damn second of my time to do that because, at this point in my life, the world revolves around me.
Does every teenager or young adult feel that way? Do we regret it when we’re older? Will I ever truly get to help?
And it sucks even more that I won’t find out the answers to those questions until I’m older and I have no choice but to accept them. I honestly don’t know why I wrote this and why it took me over a month to finish it. The title of this post is “Let Me Do Me (But Also All These Other Things)” and the problem I have is that I am only doing me, with little regard for everything else.