Wake-up Call

Being the millennial that I am, I’ve been restless for some time, questioning myself about “what I’m supposed to do”, “what I was born to be”, despite the fact that I have a job, hobbies, social activities. I’ve been wondering what should I do for the society.

It’s definitely hard to always be positive in a highly-informed world where we can easily see everything from the worst of people, forged “realities”, terrorizing events, civil clashes, to regressive public policies, all throwing to our faces many provoking battles to be picked from. At the same time we see highly successful people, the young and influential, the geniuses, creative people, those who bring changes into their surrounding.

It’s hard for me, and maybe you too, to focus on what “we were born to do”, where our place is, what our fight should be, in this fast-moving world. For one, how can anything we do be relevant to make up for the massive scale of destruction we, our politicians, or our leaders, are doing to ourselves? I’ve been in a better place for some time so I can really think, but I still couldn’t convince myself to an answer to these questions. I’m still floating in empty air, half-asleep, looking down.

First wake-up call came yesterday through a blog post written by an acquaintance about how he feels like he’s wasted his life and won’t even live to see the child he may choose to have or the change he will bring to the world if he’s committed enough to make any. His story terrified me because I may feel the same way if I don’t get myself together soon, get rid of negative feelings, and figure out what my long-term plans should be.

Second wake-up today came today from -whaddaya know- Bill Gates, through this post. It really offered an answer to my pessimistic question. He reminded me to open that door where only positivity is allowed, leading to the answers that are out there to be found, or more likely, to another door to the answers that leads to our own selves, waiting to also be discovered.

He said that we are living in “the most peaceful time in human history”. It’s indeed hard to believe. But come to think about it, not only we are free from a global war, we also have achieved much in many ways (in the last 35 years, at least): we finally have consensus on climate change, global literacy rate is around 90%, life expectancy of people with HIV under therapy now near-normal, global inequality decreasing, etc. There are excellent progress in many sectors.

But our generation do have many challenges, to mention a few: low quality and dispersed education, evil political games (yes you, Indonesia), decarbonisation, climate change risks still haunting, globally-supported civil wars, failing economic and financial market system, hackers and cyber crime, a contest on democracy, automatization, risk of increasing inequality, etc.

Those are for our generation. Talking to you, fellow millennials. We need to answer these challenges. One of these days we may feel going back to the dark ages, but we’re not. We’re not gonna let ourselves go there.

There you go, I’m an optimist. Or rather, Gates reminds me that I am. I believe we can solve our problems. And he reminds me to see the bigger picture – not the little problems we see on TV or internet news, twitter battles, bullish social media posts. Those are information, but being attached to them too much will just waste our time and lose the bigger picture. Instead, we need to surround ourselves with real people who challenge us, teach us and push us to be our best self. He referred to his Melinda. The question of my privilege to this sort of luck remains, though.

I know I’m not the only one who believe we will always have big challenges, in our world, country, community, we will always see people to help, problems to be solved. And those are the very things that matters, the reason we are alive. I will get my act together and decide some important things. Read that book The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. Do what I was born to do.

“This is an amazing time to be alive. I hope you make the most of it.”

Bill Gates almost made me cry. It may be is. We need to start giving back right away. Get out of our busy idleness, as Seneca put it.

There are sooo many battles to pick from. What’s yours?

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