Wasting time surrounded by strangers, eating overpriced crappy food and getting confused about where exactly you need to be, what do these have in common? Along with struggling to put your shoes and watches on after a TSA security check, these are all things we experience at the airport. From the cramped seats, small bathrooms and screaming children, it is easy to see why flying gets a bad rep, but surely there must be positives too? Whether you are flying home for christmas, going on vacation, or taking a business trip, every occasion can be an opportunity for growth and a chance to gain new perspectives. This concept is the reason I am creating a new series, Airplane Anecdotes, where I will be writing about the nuisances of flying, maybe an opinion on why airports make us feel so nostalgic or any other fleeting inspirational anecdotes during my adventures on airplanes. I hope that you are able to relate or learn something from this humorous series. Ladies and Gentlemen, please make sure to fasten your seatbelts, enjoy the ride and remember the nearest exit may be behind you.
It was November 20, 2017 and as I was sitting there, precisely 35,000 feet in the air, flying over what was most likely Utah, I started to reflect on the United States’ political climate. Wow, not even a year since Donald Trump’s inauguration and he has already brought frenzy and conflict amongst his citizens regardless of political opinion. My social media platforms have seemingly become more political, as people desperately seek answers to the outcries of possible corruption in government. Many citizens may be scrambling around thinking “our president is making decisions that are destroying lives, but it isn’t an election year, we can’t do anything to stop this, right?” WRONG!
What caused this reflection? I was listening to P!nk’s song “What About Us?” which gives the government a big, fat middle finger. As I listened to the song, it struck me that I had no idea what the song intended to mean. With a little research, I found that P!nk has been using her music to discuss important topics since her 2006 song, “Dear Mr. President.” Just one day after the most recent election, P!nk, Lady Gaga and Sia endorsed a petition begging the electoral college to vote with the popular votes’ result, which would have put Hillary Clinton into office. P!nk released this caption on an Instagram photo on Nov. 9, 2016:
“…. please block me. Please unfollow me. We do not respect each other. You do not have my respect, and I obviously don’t have yours. We are not friends. To everyone else, we shall overcome. Stay on the path of love and tolerance. Hug your kids. Teach them about diversity and about fighting for others, and sticking up for themselves. I will do my part.”
P!nk also attended the women’s march where her sign read: “unity, equality, and a dash of nasty.” While P!nk never explicitly said that her hit single was about the political climate, it seems to have become an anthem for the underrepresented and the angry as the chorus illustrates:
“What about us? What about all the times you said you had the answers? So what about us? What about all the broken happy ever afters? Oh, what about us? What about all the plans that ended in disaster? Oh, what about love? What about trust? What about us?” Give it a listen!
Many other famous individuals are already creating a culture where they use the media platform they are provided to advocate for their beliefs or political opinion. Ellen Degeneres started a fundraiser to fight a possible overturn of federal government law that would allow hunters to bring “trophy” elephants killed in Zimbabwe into the United States. On Nov. 15, it was reported that the owners of mainstream party game, Cards Against Humanity, bought a large plot of land where the Trump administration is currently attempting to build a wall to keep people from illegally crossing the United States–Mexico border. The company is trying to force Trump to either buy out the land they own for an extreme price, or to build the wall around the land, which would cost the Trump administration more because of the increased material. What a prime example of using creative problem solving to influence not only culture, but also the outcome of many people’s realities.
You may be thinking “This is all great, but I am not P!nk, Ellen Degeneres or the CEO of one the country’s most popular party games, I don’t have money to give!” Don’t fret, we are all in the same boat (or airplane), but I still loosely consider myself an activist. In my opinion, there are two forms of currency: money and time. If you don’t have money, give your time. If you don’t have time, give your money. If you don’t have either, quit lying to yourself! With such radical changes in government comes the need for radical action from the citizens it represents. Conveniently, to preserve your time, I have listed several ways to make these changes:
- Communicate through phone calls, emails, or letters your beliefs to your representatives. How can they do their job, representing a portion of this country, if they do not hear from the people they represent?
- Read news articles critically and talk about them with people around you. Seriously, living and learning culture should not just exist in educational institutions.
- You know that jerk who keeps making crude, offensive jokes? Stand up to that person even if the jokes aren’t directed toward your identity. Better yet, sit down and have a meaningful, civil conversation about why they think it is appropriate to make said jokes. Be open-minded and really hear their side of the story.
- Talk to someone who you know disagrees or has an opposing opinion to you. Find common ground on the issue and respect their opinion, even if you don’t agree.
- Use social media to advocate or inform your peers about the issues, but please, PLEASE check the facts before you share fake news.
- Share this article on your social media platform (shameless promo). Really though, it will take like 30 seconds and we could help develop a culture of acceptance, respect, and advocacy.
- Use your status as a consumer to represent your beliefs. Support artists, newspapers and products that advocate for something you want to support. Did you know that you can “adopt” an endangered animal by donating money. In return, you usually receive a certificate of adoption, a picture and a fuzzy plush version of the living animal.
- Lastly, write these kinds of articles yourself. It is 2018 and the digital age is amazing.
There are no excuses. In the time it took you to read this entire article, you could have financially adopted an elephant, made new friends while volunteering at your local charities, had a productive discussion with your peers or you could have posted influential articles on social media. Government officials may control the law, but we create the culture and as some may say, “Times Up.”