A little over a year ago, flyers for the “Value Your Power” video contest were handed out in school. I noticed that many kids either threw their flyers away, or crammed them into their folders, likely to be forgotten. This inspired me to submit a video for two reasons; the first being, maybe I could actually win if no one else would try… But, more importantly, if that happened maybe I could begin to normalize the idea of teens speaking out about world issues (which in this case was energy conservation). I had a million points I wanted to make in my 60 seconds of video footage, but I decided to focus on what I believed to be the root of the issue: people lack hope that there is anything they can do to create significant, positive, change. And, this belief destroys the motivation to try.
In my video, I accredited people who in their time overcame seemingly impossible challenges, and created a ripple of positivity that is still felt by all of us today. I also pointed out, however, that things can change for the worse, and they have before, an example being the hundreds of animals that have gone extinct as a result of various human errors; poaching, polluting and destroying natural habitats, etc. These negative events could have been prevented, had they not been neglected by the majority of the population. I believe in order to stop such negligence from happening in the future, it must no longer be comfortable. The reality can’t keep being swept under the rug, and each of us must take accountability for what is happening.
It is fair to say that getting to this frame of mind is easier said than done. It’s easy to feel powerless, next to 7 billion other people. But, the most important thing I got out of contributing to this contest was learning just how connected we all are to one another, and even as individuals, we are definitely not powerless. For those of you that have not heard of “7 Degrees of Separation,” it is the idea that we are all, at most, 7 people away from knowing anyone in the world. Though this concept may not actually be provable, it definitely contains an element of truth, and it puts our relationships with others in perspective. During the contest, there was a week-long public voting period. Over the course of this week, I reached out to basically everyone I knew. What I was not expecting, was for many of those people to go promote my video on their own, thus creating my own special “ripple of positivity.” I watched, ecstatic, as my views on YouTube climbed past 150. I did eventually win the contest, due to a majority vote.
Following that event, I was invited again to compete at a regional level. And after that, I was invited here. Reaching more people than I could’ve ever imagined, when I started out with a garbage bag set and a lightbulb box. Since these experiences, my eyes have shifted to the truth of things: we are all connected, with the earth and to each other, similar to a chain. It is our job to communicate and keep the chain from breaking, because if it does, we will all experience the fallout. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” If I could speak on a huge intercom to the whole world, I would say: “Do not be made still by the idea that you can’t make a difference. Things are not solid. Reality is not ‘immovable’. We as humans are very easily influenced, and when our perspectives change, so does the world.”