I’m reminded daily that the world is ending. I can’t count the number of school shootings within memory, and living in a country at war has become a constant rather than a variable. However, these things seem distant and irrelevant most days. Yes, apocalypse is irrelevant. My separation from frontlines causes me to feel that the United States is at war rather than in war. So many sources tell my generation of imminent disaster that it’s hard to decipher which are valid, which are changeable, and which should be accepted as inevitable. Unfortunately, the apathy of many has begun to shape our population toward the comprehension of the latter. As young adults today, we will most likely live longer than our parents, allowing us to witness the changes that occur over a majority of the century. Perhaps this position will allow us to set goals never achieved by preceding generations. Perhaps it will cause us to live in regret throughout the last years of our lives. If I could choose to witness anything during the next century, it would be the realization of communicational poignancy, and the awakening of a lost human instinct: recognizing the universality of the human condition.

Every wave of young people feels as if it is hurdling to a breaking point. New developments in technology answer singular questions but open up paths toward millions more. As we move to accept new forms of communication as means of unification rather than infection, the social scope of the individual is exponentially widened. The sentiment that the pen is stronger than the sword experiences unprecedented relevance today. If anything separates this century from the rest, it will be the realized power of interconnectivity. The 21st century, as referenced by textbooks of the future will be one of communicational application. My hope is that it will also be known for the empowerment of the individual to make a global impact. The resources of social media grant participants access to unrivaled networks of people from previously inaccessible places. Facebook alone engages 15% of the world’s population with 1.3 billion active users. One of the most widely known applications of social media for societal change was Egypt’s Arab Spring, commonly referenced as a rebellion that began online. Humanistic motivations resulted in the utilization of Facebook and Twitter as means of organization, opening internet forums as much more than a vehicle of friendly communication. Unfortunately, the same mediums that facilitate positive societal change perpetuate a pattern of globalization that results in the deterioration of local economies in developing countries. The economic systems of nations such as Jamaica that rely on the profit of limited exports suffer in the face of labor exploitation by multinational corporations that would otherwise be unable to operate on such a scale without recent communicational advancements. The detriments of this trend can be relieved through the historically unachievable prioritization of the human condition over individual profit by world economic leaders. The capacity for social change in many contexts, including the ethics of labor is much greater today due to the fact that isolation is largely a thing of a past. A two-step process of cognizance and empathy is at the fingertips of the 21st century.

Trends in news media have created a repetitious Rolodex of momentary awareness, stereotyping people groups and caricaturing faces of opposition. The creation of easy to handle media that leans toward public acceptance has greatly limited the span of actual understanding. We know what we are told, often satisfied with the provided content without considering its source. Another tenant of the communication revolution is the increased reporting capacity of its users. Resulting is an uneven ratio of opinion to fact. A battle for bias-free media sources must be waged if widespread understanding of global events is ever to be achieved. Furthermore, a constant conveyance of urgency by news media has created an attitude of apathy that is especially apparent in younger generations. The ability to differentiate between a theory and Armageddon is difficult today. Without a feeling of immediacy toward the identification of vital global issues, we will be unable to realize strategies to combat them. Uncertainties plague young people today such as the existence of nuclear weapons that could obliterate populations instantaneously, the ability of diseases to overcome antibiotics, and the eventual depletion of the ozone layer. Advancement comes at a cost, and news media does a fantastic job of whipping up hysteria over popular issues at seemingly predetermined intervals. The ultimate objective of news within the 21st century should be to inform people not only of their passive role in global events, but also their active potential to make a difference. I would like the 21st century to recognize information as a basic human right and to provide it without the underlying elements of personal gain and dramatization.

If hope for the 21st century balances on a single apparatus, it is the recognition of the universality of the human condition. The work of new innovators in fusing the increasing gap between developed and developing nations will lay ground for an organic and healthy process of population growth. The battle for unalienable human rights as outlined by the United Nations needs to continue with an increased fervor throughout the next 100 years. Without it, human kind will be destroyed by its own apathy. Fortunately, the unrestricted achievement of human rights becomes more attainable through fresh modes of communication. The principal bulwarks of this process are actually very obvious. Archaic ideological hostility and secular nationalism are the enemies of basic human rights. The former has grown into an issue based on confusion regarding original sources of grievances and the completely objective nature of faith. Battles among poli-religious groups often involve dangerous conceptions of triumph. Anyone can recognize the impossibility of eventual agreement, but I compel the 21st century to witness the miracle of mutual appeasement in the interest of human rights. The achievement of this requires not the understanding of a problem and solution process, but the comprehension of a common goal. The inherent desire to lead and provide a decent quality of life should serve to unify peoples of all races and religions. It is the extremism of few that prevent the common goal of many. Secondarily, the prevalence of globalization has perpetuated movements toward secular nationalism for the preservation of individual cultures. While this is a noble sentiment, a fine line exists between valuable cultural individuality and dangerous attitudes of superiority. Often, members of communities under systems of secular nationalism are unaware of the improved quality life that would be otherwise available. The increased couth of nations toward cultural individualism is required for the 21st century, when worldwide influence is ubiquitous.

The increased intimacy between my generation and apocalypse has operated in the league of indifference. However, I feel a stirring beneath the surface. A love for the world and all of its imperfections. That passion, nested at the pit of my stomach is what I want to extract and to share with the 21st century. I know that it exists in others by the way that people of different cultures communicate with each other, even if it’s only through a smile. I know it through small acts like recycling to large acts like text campaigns to fight Ebola. I have faith that, for the sake of survival, the next 100 years will witness unparalleled acts of communicational strength, and goal recognition. I’m excited to be involved.

Addison Cross


Spectrum High School 

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