Don't Be Frightened. Be Inspired.

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Don't Be Frightened. Be Inspired.

(Credit: 350.org)

Society teaches us that the individual is greater than everything. It’s why we take selfies and spend hours of our days curating our image on Facebook and Instagram. Society teaches us that if there is a crisis, then we can make individual decisions that fix that crisis. Take climate change as an example: the subsequent individualist argument is that if we each make sustainable decisions, take shorter showers, recycle, compost, then we can solve the climate crisis.

I don’t believe that. There is something about humans that gives us the capacity to love. I think empathy is inherent in all human connection. I care about other humans (even if I don’t know them) and that’s normal. We need to be collectively responsible for our actions.

"Let’s reinvest in our communities, by building sustainable public infrastructure and renewable jobs. And let’s reconstruct a democracy that represents the people."

Right now, communities I care about are in crisis. The drought in California is directly affecting my community at home and hundreds of poor, minority communities in the Central Valley. Low-income homeowners have been rationing water in the cities and suburbs for months, while the wealthy folks in Beverly Hills and Palo Alto wouldn’t dare let their lawns or golf course go brown. I care about my family and communities back home in India who have endured centuries of labor and resource extraction without compensation.

And it’s not just my communities under attack, it is communities of people of color everywhere. Years of predatory mortgages and a school to prison pipeline sets youth in these communities up to fail. There are communities in Alabama that were legally having their voting rights stolen. Communities of color in the United States are literally set up to fail.

The problem isn’t simply climate change. It is the crisis created by an economy that extracts wealth from communities and puts it in the hands of a few, the crisis created by a political system that doesn’t represent the interests of the people, the crisis created by a status quo that favors white lives over black lives.

Yikes. That’s frightening.

But what inspires me are the youth in these communities in crisis that are taking ACTION: youth in the movement for black lives demanding justice for police brutality and generations of inequality, youth in the climate movement demanding that their colleges stop investing in an extractive economy, youth in the immigrant justice movement demanding that our government stop deporting mothers and fathers, and youth fighting for justice everywhere.

And that’s inspiring. We are a generation of dreamers who aren’t afraid to think outside the box, even when we are taught not to. Let’s resist the status quo that fails us. Let’s reinvest in our communities, by building sustainable public infrastructure and renewable jobs. And let’s reconstruct a democracy that represents the people.

Join me in Washington D.C. on November 9th to demand action from our leaders to reimagine a just and equitable society. It’s time we linked love and revolution, so let’s fight for the communities and people we love.

Vignesh Ramachandran

Vignesh Ramachandran is an Indian-American student at Middlebury College, an organizer with Divest Middlebury and Communications Coordinator with the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network. Follow him on Twitter: @_viggy.

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