Last week, an organization that I am involved in, the Korean American Student Association (KASA) held their second annual North Korean Awareness Day. During their showing of Seoul Train, a documentary that exposes the horrendous human rights violations that are occurring there, I sat there in awe as the phrase, "what can I possibly do to help?" ran through my mind over and over again.
This very question was addressed by the president of Liberty in North Korea (LINK) during the expo that was held in the Union earlier that day. The president urged the campus to get involved in any way possible, and included the notion that knowledge and awareness is the first step.
Often, when we hear of injustices that are occurring elsewhere, we either feel very far removed and almost numb to the numbers of war casualties or starvation cases, not fully being able to comprehend what 8,217 deaths actually means, or are quite affected but do not think that we as individuals can possibly do anything to change the situation at hand.
War, famine, prison camps, torture and even slavery still occur in many different parts of the world today. It's so difficult to even think about these issues because we may not feel directly connected to them, let alone think that we can possibly do something to help the situation.
There is an organization on campus called Amnesty International. Each week members meet to write letters regarding different injustices that are occurring around the world. When I first heard of the letter writing theme of Amnesty, I shrugged it off almost indifferently, thinking that writing letters would never lead to change because most of the time they go completely unread or are responded to with an automated letter.
But then my housemate suggested that it wasn't necessarily what was said in those letters that mattered; rather, perhaps the mere volume of letters received would speak for themselves. Seeing that people care about the issues and that a large number of individuals are passionate enough to take action, even if it's as seemingly small as writing a letter, can be enough to make a difference. What this means though, in a metaphoric sense more than a literal one, is that we all need to start writing letters.
Most people feel passionately about some sort of issue. It might not be as global as war, famine, or slavery and instead might be local like something unjust occurring in your hometown or even on campus. But before you shrug off that interest, thinking that there is no way you alone can make a difference, try to think what would happen if no one ever acted when something wasn't right. The power of numbers is often greater than we think, and each time we individually recognize a problem exists and work in small steps to change it, the more other people may be inspired to do the same.
Before we know it, hundreds or even thousands of people will have voiced their opinions on some of the same issues. Maybe, just maybe, that will begin to be enough for the people causing the inequality or the unjust conditions to understand how it is negatively impacting people all over the world and what they can do to end it.