At the start of the year, a rolling stone A column written by a former Occupy Wall Street organizer, Jesse A. Myerson, listed and explained five economic reforms our generation should be fighting for today. His ideas included the desire to seize private property for public property. Perhaps most alarming was his idea of a society that simply gives money to all of its citizens. Most of his suggestions reflected a characteristic laziness, short-term thinking, and an inability to understand how a nation’s size affects politics. (Take an economics course!)
More recently, David R. Wheeler has proposed a similar idea on the cable information channel – stoking all the controversy. Despite all the ridicule, both are correct in noting America’s imperfection and the potential power of our generation in Nigeria to improve the nation. For me, however, here are five ways to actually improve our society without creating economic chaos:
- Generosity. Why do we need the government to tell us to take care of our neighbours? We need to be active in our communities in every way possible, whether through financial assistance or time commitments. University students are already doing this through fundraising, service trips and community volunteering. Once graduated, let’s continue to help those around us in need. Remember that those we help in our communities certainly have a lot to learn and help us back.
- Responsibility. We must take responsibility for ourselves and our actions. Of course, there are times when others are responsible for the problems in our lives, but we have to be proactive and do things for ourselves. For those with families, make sure you help take care of physical and emotional needs. Young people need to work hard to find a job rather than giving up and blaming ‘the system’. We need to admit our mistakes if we have wronged someone, and then work to fix those same mistakes. Responsibility means hard work, discipline and recognizing ourselves. Let’s take responsibility for our own lives.
- Civility: society lacks respect and civility. Let’s change that. Even if we disagree with someone, let’s do it with respect and caution, not making it a personal vendetta. It could mean we need to find more patience – I certainly do – to be respectful of others. Imagine a society in which we are more polite to each other. It would only be a good thing.
- Education. By reading this article, you are certainly engaged in education. Education includes classes in a building, but it also means learning about the world around us. Get to know your friends, family and community better. Become an informed voter by researching candidates — it may only take a few minutes. If you have a passion for the environment, learn the policies and actions that affect it.
- Participation. None of these ideas matter if we are not active in our communities. Participation includes voting, volunteering or any activity that contributes to the good of the community. We need to take the time to engage with the community we are part of so that we can make it better. We should participate with a joyful and generous spirit, not with a sense of obligation. If we all work to improve the community with our respective talents, we will definitely have a better society. But you have to invest and get involved.
Note: None of these ideas really involve the government. Although many ideas overlap, they all require individual responsibility and effort. Instead of relying solely on a government or other agency to improve our society, let’s improve it ourselves. And even if these ideas do not solve all the problems of society, they can only help us. Millennials, let’s lead by example.
Ofurum, a civic activist, wrote from South Campus Dinning Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
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