For a while, I stopped taking part in the news reporting because I felt too bad about what I read or saw on TV. So much misery in our world, too much suffering to take in. I could not bear it. The gaps are widening both in terms of gender equality and the poor and rich, respectively. The number of natural disasters is increasing. There are many difficult conflicts and more people than ever are on the run. More hate crimes with racist motives are committed. But the world is not only getting worse. In fact, development is going in the right direction as well. Extreme poverty has been halved. Global health has improved. More children go to school around the world.
The pace and extent of the changes that are taking place in the world around us place great demands on us, both as actors in civil society and as world citizens who care. It is easy to feel powerless, but it is actually possible to make a concrete difference for another human being. In the Red Cross Youth Association, the organization I work for, thousands of volunteers get involved every week to ensure that children and young people are safe and well. They chat with young people who feel bad but have no one to talk to, they help with homework, have breakfast together before school or meet and do fun things with unaccompanied young people after school. A volunteer in our chat "On-call friend" explains:
- The world is tough and instead of waiting for someone else to do something, I thought I would do something and then the on-call friend felt just right for me. Joining a on-call friend is really one of the best things I have done. While it can be tough to deal with at times, it actually helps young people directly. You are no longer just someone watching but actually helping.
With the knowledge that one can be involved and influence, it is also a little easier to see and take in what is going on around us. It is important that we dare to meet our fellow human beings even when they are in a vulnerable situation. We can and must not accept the dehumanization that takes place when human life becomes economic figures in an Excel sheet. Instead of hopelessness, I often feel hope now. Together, you and I can create change. It is a power we possess and which we must also use. Power to influence, power to change. So pause the news scrolling sometimes, not because you do not have the strength to see the misery, but to get involved and be a part of the great positive force that exists instead.