I think there’s something to be said about the ownership of time. For instance, everything from 1989 onward is mine. I was alive. Anything that’s happened during those years, I am a part of because I was a living breathing individual on the earth when they happened. It’s why people identify with ridiculous trends or movies that were popular when they were younger. They were a part of creating the trend or making the movie popular. It’s hard to deny that I had anything to do with the Spice Girls craze in the 90’s because I can still sing all the words to Wannabe. It’s a part of who I am just as much as I was a part of it’s existence.
This applies to historical things as well. I will always feel much more connected to the genocide in Rwanda, 9/11, and the War in Iraq than WWII or the Cold War. It’s not that I’m not affected by them, I am. They just aren’t tainted with a sense of ownership. We didn’t have bombing drills in school. I didn’t send friends and loved ones off to war. They happened, they were horrible, but I can’t do anything about them now. My job is to find out what can be learned from the experiences of my grandparents and great-grandparents so that we can prevent them from happening again.
But history is slightly different when you’re alive. When you’re a part of the action. When you don’t make your decisions in hindsight with loads of information that was only acquired after the peace treaty was signed. When you’re living through it you don’t know what to believe or what opinion to have. You’re trying to decide what’s best for your country without know what the future holds. Or who else might have plans of their own. The uncertainty is rather terrifying, and yet we proceed to live our normal lives, ones that usually don’t involve much politics, habitual patterns that won’t change the world anytime soon.
It’s slightly surreal typing this at my secretarial job where the most traumatic thing that happens is a disgruntled student and I live and die with my English papers when there are people on the other side of the world shooting at each other with RPGs, when the drug cartels run countries of starving people, when gangs riddle neighborhoods that should be full of hope with fear and despair. Why do I get this life while others are stuck in those? And don’t I have any ownership? If I’m doing nothing to solve these problems, aren’t I a part of them? I just don’t know what to do.
It all seems futile and yet I have hope. The Plan of Salvation gives me hope. Knowing that our Father in Heaven loves all of His children and wants them to be happy somehow gives me hope. Because if anyone has the ability and desire to actually do something that will make a difference, it’s Him. I have hope that in following His gospel and His counsel, somehow it makes a difference in the scheme of things. That I am contributing to His perfect plan to make the world a better place. And until I graduate and can join peace corp or go on a service mission, these little acts of kindness will have to be sufficient.