Wake-up Call

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

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

It’s hard for me, and maybe for you too, to focus on what “we were born to do”, where our place is, and 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 are doing to ourselves and to our world? Personally  I’ve been in a better place for some time, so I can really start thinking, but I still couldn’t convince myself to an answer to these questions. I’m still floating in empty air, half-asleep, gazing down.

The 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 success of his child he may choose to have, or the change he will bring to the world, even if he’s committed enough to make any. His story terrified me. I felt like I will 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 Bill Gates, through this post. It 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, leading to answers that lead us to our innermost selves, waiting to be discovered.

Bill Gates (I have tremendous respect for this guy) 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 a consensus to fight climate change, global literacy rate is around 90%, life expectancy of people living with HIV under therapy now near-normal, global inequality is 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 with long-term impacts (yes I’m talking about you, Indonesia), decarbonisation, climate change risks, globally-supported civil wars, failing economic and financial market system, cyber crimes, contest on democracy, automatization and job losses, risk of increasing inequality, etc.

Those challenges are for our generation to answer. I’m talking to you, fellow millennials. One of these days we may feel like we’re 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 reminded 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 the internet, twitter battles, or bullish social media posts. Those are information, but being too attached to them will waste our time and takes away the bigger picture from our sight. 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.

I know I’m not the only one who believe we will always have big challenges, in our world, country, and community, we will always see people in need for help and problems to be solved. Those are the very things that matters, the reasons 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. The world is so vast and it’s devastatingly beautiful. 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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