This I Believe

Sheila - Skaneateles, New York
Entered on February 9, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I Believe

I believe that John Mayer is wrong. John Mayer, a popular 28 year old song writer and singer has a hit song out right now called “Waiting on the World to Change”. This song speaks of his Generation “Y” – youth born in the late 1970s – their frustration with the world and their role in it. The song is quite lovely and melodic and his voice is mesmerizing, but if you listen to the words you see a vision of the world that is simply apathetic. What John Mayer is saying in this short, melodic song is that he and his generation are waiting on the world to change because they know there is nothing they can do to change all of the world’s problems. “Me and all of my friends we’re all misunderstood, they say we stand for nothing, there’s no way we ever could”. So we keep waiting, waiting on the world to change.”

Well I am from Generation X – the generation that came after the Baby Boomers, and the end of the Cold War. And I believe strongly that people can change the world. I believe that even one person can change the world: think Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Einstein, Ralph Nader, and Margaret Woodward.

Just who is Margaret Woodward? Well, she is one of the many people that I have heard about in my lifetime that have led me to believe that people can change the world, even if it is only a small part of the world, like the Adirondacks in New York State where she was from. According to the story about her, Margaret saved a tree from loggers by chaining herself to it. This happened at the turn of the 20th century, years before this type of civil disobedience was even popular. Obviously this tree meant a lot to her. It now stands, 315 years old, and 175 feet tall in a forest owned and protected by the State College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

A modern day equivalent to Margaret Woodward might be the 30 Greenpeace activists that are right now risking their lives on small rubber dinghies trying to save 400 Minke whales from being hunted by Japanese commercial whaling ships. Or the tireless efforts of those trying to convince the world leaders that we need to do something now about global warming.

And so maybe that is the real crux of the issue. I believe that if something means a lot to a person or a nation, then they don’t wait around for things to happen, or for history to takes its course. They intervene, they make history happen. And I believe that it is truly human to want to make my life or the lives of the next generation – Generation “Z” – better by contributing what little I can to making changes in the world instead of waiting around for the world to change.