I will never forget the day when I was making a journal entry. Thoughts were pulsing in my head and my heart was beating furiously as I was staring at the image of Matthew Johnson’s lifeless body. I knew that it would leave an indelible mark in my life.
This happened on July 14, when Soldier Matthew J. Johnson died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan War 2010.
He was not the only one. The image of ten other soldiers graced the BBC News television screen. This time I could not get over it and could not get rid of haunting and torturous feeling that innocent people like Matthew and those ten soldiers died executing the orders of others. I caught myself contemplating this issue and finding the justification. Only the political interests of nations led to the tragedy. What I was certain about was the common indifference of people, which stemmed from unawareness that I needed to eradicate. The feeling of unfairness rooted deeply in my soul and I could not leave it as it was. The recurring image of dead soldiers pushed me out of my comfort zone and spurred me to action.
Understanding of what was wrong came a few months later. One Sunday afternoon, as I was studying for my final 9th grade exams, I exploded. I could barely concentrate and I felt the heavy burden of ‘why should it happen this way’ weighing on me. My thoughts kept coming back to that BBC newscast. Feeling a strong urge to share my feeling with someone, I rushed downstairs, trying to make my inner self accept people’s pieces of advice. I was trying to transfer my passions into constructive emotions since by then, I was frustrated with adults’ attempts to deflate my dreams and control the way I felt. I faced the unbreakable wall of ignorance of the whole world.
Once I reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw my father cooking dinner. He looked at me abruptly. Seeing me ready to crash something before raising a sound, my father enquired about the reason for looking that way. “People’ lack of international responsibility desperate me”, was all that came out of my mouth. Despite the father’s efforts to comfort me while I explained my disappointment with people’s indifference towards international responsibilities, he failed to succeed. “People only care about themselves”, I concluded, storming out of the door.
Month after the conversation with my father, I began looking for the explanation of selfishness that captivated people. I suddenly felt a sense of enlightenment, knowledgeability and relief that I needed so badly. People simply cared more about themselves and their individual lives, and little about others. Moreover, much was about fame, prosperity and wealth. I realized that I was being unconsciously shaped by a society in which personal interest supersedes morality and, as a result, I felt out of place.
I had never thought that something can shape my life like that, but that Sunday afternoon, I was struck. The emotional stress I experienced the day of sharing it with my father began my quest of bringing change to the world. I knew it would be challenging and my efforts would be inconsequential if I attacked the system wholly. Thus, I also knew that knowledge of international politics was the strongest weapon I could use. Owing to that day in 2010, I decided to transform myself.
Being positive that I was not alone, I found people with the same attitudes towards international responsibility, volunteered in political scenarios and tried to participate in every event that could increase people’s awareness of international politics. Nothing changed in the world the day my anger exploded, except for me. I was no longer indifferent.
I realized that people need to become global citizens, liberated from personal, cultural and family ties. I decided to leave my cultural and national connections behind to become a citizen of the world and take action.
Nothing changed in the world that day, except me. Thus, that change was the most significant.