I have always believed what I was told.
I have never been the girl interested in politics.
I believed that conflicts in Africa, Indo-China, and especially in the Middle East were too complex for me to ever understand. I believed that the United States had nothing to do with these conflicts abroad, and that we were only becoming involved to protect the ideals of freedom and democracy across the globe. I believed what the media told me and I believed that politicians really did have the ideals of America at heart. I possessed a very distorted vision of the current global realities. I believed the stories I heard on the nightly news without question and I rejected reality that wasn’t painted for me in a euphemistic light.
My life and my reality was one I’d worked for and one that was free to anyone who wanted it. I accepted what the news anchor said as truth, and therefore, I found no other motivation to search for truth myself. I had heard that politics were being corrupted, but what did I have in common with the suits and ties in Washington? I was not responsible for their actions because I was not them. I did not vote them into power and I did not approve of their actions. So I washed my hands of the matter. I thought that this was “just the way things worked”. I was wrapped up in my own life; I saw little connection between foreign politics and my life. I was “just not into politics” and so I forgot about it. Above all, I was apathetic.
And then this thing happened to me. I got the chance to live on the other side of the world. For four months, I got to see my home in an entirely new light. Painfully, I had to open my eyes and see my home from across the globe. See it as it really was. I realize that it shouldn’t have had to come to this. Nobody should need to travel across the world to simply become aware of what their country is doing, and to become aware of all of that is destroyed under the name of that country. But, truthfully, it came to that in my case. I can blame my apathy and inaction on the media of my country, but that would only be half the truth. I felt apathy because I never felt connected to the problem. I never cared enough to do my homework and to search for the truth behind what my government was doing in my world.
And that was where India came in. Through my time here I have seen, physically seen, the effects that my personal actions back home have on people outside the American matrix. We are all trained to see what nobody wants us to see. I understand that now and it scares me. I can no longer deny the part I’ve played in the injustice I see. The suffering I caused just by buying lawn fertilizer without thinking for example. I never cared enough to find out that these very fertilizers are made in unsafe plants that are sites of unthinkable atrocities. Chemical explosions in these plants kill innumerable people, seep into ground water and cause horrendous birth defects for generations to come. The tragic case of the gas tragedy in Bhopal, India is just one example of this. With every bag of fertilizer, I support the companies that value profit over human life.
No, I wasn’t involved in many of the harmful decisions the government made, but I was and am responsible for them and their effects because they were made under my name. My inaction was more telling than any other action I could have chosen to do. By going along with this system, by being complacent, being apathetic, being ignorant, I supported and encouraged these injustices to continue just as much as the politicians in Washington do. If I have learned anything through my time in India, I have learned this:
Inaction is very much an action. And I won’t complacent any longer.