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What’s wrong with society?

Skye Tufts Skye Tufts
By Staff Reporter

by Skye Tufts,
Hazelwood Integrated College

I’M about to share the vital key to all of our problems, the very secret and taboo that has been right in front of our eyes this whole time. In fact, this piece of information is so humiliating and disgraceful to our kind as a whole that we try and cover it up and simply pretend it’s not there. What is so horrific that every time we face it we close our eyes and turn our backs. I’ll tell you the answer – are you listening?

Society is the key to all of our problems. Just face it – we’re a mess. Mother Nature is fighting a war, a war against us. And while we’re destroying our home, we fight against each other. We are the most destructive species ever created. The most heartbreaking part of this realisation is the fact that we have the power to achieve or do anything we can possibly imagine, yet we just don’t always choose to use it for good. I mean, what if we woke up tomorrow and everything was gone? Just darkness, emptiness and loss. If only it were that straightforward, because before we get to this guaranteed culmination, we have to take a front passenger seat on the highway to hell. What am I talking about exactly?

It’s not a myth. We’re living in the beginning of a mass extinction. If we don’t act now, by the time we reach 2030, the damage will be irreversible. The current effects are changing seasons, melting ice, rising sea levels and more rainfall – and the worst is yet to come. This is all caused by burning fossil fuels, farming and deforestation. Yet we still continue to do thes. Plastics are contaminating the oceans, the air is polluted and animals are becoming extinct: tigers, elephants, rhinos, lions, orang-utans and many more… Their blood lies in our hands. Bees are dying off and turtles are suffocating. Whales are washing up on our beaches and yet we say, “It’s not our problem.” Well, it is your problem. It’s all of our problem. The Amazon rainforest started burning down months ago and continues to burn. It is the very lungs of our planet yet there was very little media coverage of this detrimental event. Although, when Notre Dame burned down in France, there was an outcry worldwide. Our priorities are not in the right place. There is no Planet B.
When thinking about this topic, I like to reflect on one of my favourite movies: The Guardians of the Galaxy. In it is scripted the best lines I’ve ever heard for an argument such as this. Rocket the raccoon shouts to Star-Lord, “What has the universe ever done for you? Why would you want to save it?” And Star-Lord replies, “Because I’m one of the idiots who lives on it!”

It’s as simple as this, the end is nigh. Unless we get our act together, all hope for our future generations is gone and we’re dooming our children to a tragic fate. But that’s just society, isn’t it? We don’t act until it’s too late. There has to be a tragedy first.

It’s what makes our planet function. Yet our economy system is collapsing. It’s what gives people power over one another. We become rabid animals and do things we wouldn’t normally do over money. We become selfish. We crave power. Money controls us. If we don’t have enough, we starve and are seen as worthless. If we have too much, we’re seen as selfish and power hungry. Money has made us start to lose our compassion, our sense of right and wrong. Only the strongest of people will do the right thing with money tempting their every move. There’s not an awful lot of people doing good out of the goodness of their hearts any more. People will only give if they know there’s an award in return. In America, money is put over the health care of an individual. They even ask you if you have insurance before they put you into the ambulance. What sort of society is this? Think of the countless times someone has been pulled off life support because their insurance could no longer cover it. It’s inhumane. Just think of all the suffering and hurt that one action causes.

Money seems to be finding its way to the wrong people. Think of the politicians who are being paid for a job they aren’t even doing. Stormont lies empty because they don’t want to work with them. The people of Northern Ireland don’t get a say in the decisions of their own country. This is injustice at its finest.

He’s followed us like a shadow since the dawn of man. Yet we don’t learn from our past mistakes. Think of the billions of lives that have been lost under the hand of man, the hand of war. Some of us tell ourselves it’s for good reason and others just do it out of the wickedness of their stone-cold hearts. Whatever our reason, War is a ravening beast. He’s eternal, persistent and determined as he whispers in our ears at night. He’s like the waves of oceans on a dark stormy night as he gobbles up all the sailors fighting for life with all their might. War doesn’t care who you are, whether you’re American or Islamic, man or woman, adult or child. War shows no mercy to any dying man’s shrieks. And once it seems like his ruthlessness is finished, which it never really is, he leaves sorrow and heartbreak. War doesn’t really affect those he’s claimed but the ones he’s left behind.

In WW1, 16 million people lost their lives. In WW2, 70-85 million perished. That is only two wars of all the wars we’ve ever had or ever will. So society, lay down your arms. As the famous saying goes, ‘Those who live by the sword die by the sword.’

Did you know that 62 million girls are denied education worldwide? Education is so important. It’s what shapes our minds and gives us the chance to be the best we can be. But education is limited. And yet education for us who have it is a memory test. The world has got that competitive that now school is more about passing, not learning. Why should grades on a piece of paper determine how much we’re worth to society, instead of being judged on our choice of character? GCSEs should not define us.

Furthermore, we’re not given the chance to decide what we really want to learn. Instead, it’s picked for us. Honestly, I don’t get it. Who said that mathematics was more important than simple first aid? But when we the fortunate few are finally taught it, it’s taught in one lesson and we’re expected to remember it for the rest of our lives. We aren’t taught how to take care of our mental or physical health, or how to recognise the most fatal mental disorders or illnesses with preventable causes. We aren’t taught how to recognise abuse, how to defend ourselves or what to do in life-threatening situations. We aren’t taught morals or told what’s right or wrong in the classroom when we’re young, or to not be ashamed to speak out when we need help. If all these things weren’t just expected from us and explained in depth, maybe people wouldn’t feel so helpless. Poor mental health is a serious issue and by not teaching our children these things is risking a lot of potential lives in the future. By putting unnecessary stress and pressure on our students through exams and deadlines, we’re not helping them out in any way. Did you know that Northern Ireland alone has the highest suicide rate in the UK? By not changing our methods, we’re failing our young people.

On top of that, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that if a child misbehaves in public, we simply say, “It’s not the kids, the parents are the problem.” How about we actually educate people on how to rear and parent instead of just focusing on teaching them on how to use a condom?

Moreover, kids in schools aren’t even taught what laws there are. You know, the rules that rule and function our country and decide whether we should be punished or not? Maybe if we actually explained our laws and why we had them the crime rate might actually drop? But, hey, don’t worry because we’re taught Pythagoras’ Theorem and the circumference of a circle.

We aren’t taught how money works, who controls it or where it comes from or how to budget or disburse it. Kids aren’t taught how to vote because they chose the solar system over the political system. Instead, we just follow the footsteps of our parents, but why should we be denied the chance to think for ourselves? I ask you, how is this method going to change anything? And why is the voting age 18 instead of 16? Oh yeah, because in two years’ time I’m going to have suddenly acquired the knowledge and wisdom of Gandalf.

Society is too focused on the perfect ideal of beauty than on what really matters – the purity of our hearts. Did you know that 70 per cent of women don’t feel represented in everyday media images? This has to stop. Stop censoring images of real life women and men to make them look beautiful. They’re already beautiful in their own way, scars and all. if you don’t believe that, you’re just a racist, biased and bigoted control freak who thinks that your own version of beauty is the only form of beauty tolerated. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to think otherwise is just foolish and naive. The negative effect of one Photoshopped image is insidious and is like a domino effect around the rest of the world.

Although, I can honestly hold my hand up and say that I’m not entirely bodily confident. When I look into the mirror, I don’t always like what I see. I fantasise about all the ways I could miraculously change my appearance to suit how I deem fit. When I log on to the internet, I dislike myself even more because I compare myself and wish that I could look like that. And I know for a fact that I’m not the only kid who does, we probably all do it. But the truth is, although we might not always agree, is that we were born perfect. Society just tries to warp our opinion of ourselves because it makes their low self-esteem and confidence feel better – and we allow them to do it. So whether you have white skin or black skin, brown hair or red hair, whether you’re tall or small or whether you’re large or thin, you are perfect. What society tells you are your flaws or imperfections are actually your strengths because it is proof that you are human. What you see on the internet, the TV or even posters isn’t always the truth. You’re living and breathing self, that flesh on your bones, that hair colour and everything else right down to your shoe size is your truth. Don’t censor it for anyone, stand tall and be proud. And don’t worry if you can’t do it straight away, body confidence takes time, but it’s such a reward.

Also, people are too reliant on social media and other forms of technology. Did you know that the average person watches five hours of TV a day? And not only that, kids nowadays don’t play tag anymore, instead they play TikTok. If the internet were to suddenly vanish tomorrow, everyone would be running around like headless chickens – we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. Like money, social media controls our lives. The grasp it holds on us is strong and while it has its advantages, it certainly has its disadvantages too.

Humans come in all shapes and sizes. We think differently, act differently, even our very fingerprint is different. None of us are the same, we’re all unique. But some people unfortunately have a hard time processing that and believe that anyone outside of their skin tone or belief system should be exterminated – I’m thinking of you, Hitler.

The point is, discrimination is a big deal that is still happening to this very day. Racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, anti-Semitics, whatever it is, whoever it is, there will always be someone who is against you. Discrimination is like a disease, easy to catch and hard to get rid of. Everyone should have the right to be treated equally no matter their race, religion, gender or sexuality, but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen. People are stoned to death, put in concentration camps and publicly shamed or humiliated just because they’re different, and it’s absolutely sick and diabolical.

Did you know that in the USA, African-American women earn 64 cents and Latina women earn 56 cents for every dollar made by a Caucasian man? Or that one in four employees report hearing negative jokes or comments such as “That’s so gay!” while at work? I’ve witnessed that comment being made by the people in my community on various accounts and it needs to stop. Just because a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman, it doesn’t give you the right to make negative comments and belittle them. Do you not realise how hurtful one simple comment could be to someone? For talk’s sake, imagine you said something like that in front of your little brother or sister and they happened to be gay. They were too afraid and ashamed to admit it in front of you so they kept it a secret and you just happen to make that comment all the time. In fact every time you say that comment, it chips away at their soul a little bit more than the last. Eventually, your brother or sister, who you love with all your heart, can’t even look at themselves in the mirror any more because they are ashamed and hate themselves with every fibre of their being. Even though it sounds like I’m being overdramatic, you have to realise that what you think negatively about someone could potentially be the last thing they ever heard from a peer because mental health is not a joke.

It is not a crime to be gay. It is not a crime to be Protestant or Catholic, or to be Muslim or Jewish. It is not a crime to be white, black, Asian or Hispanic. It is not a crime to want equal rights for your gender – so stop making it out to be! Grow up and learn to start accepting others for who they are, because if you want total respect for who you are, you have to be able to give it first. And for the record, feminism isn’t about women being more powerful and dominating than men (that’s misandry), it’s about fighting for equal gender rights because, while you might not realise this, women still face a lot of inequality and it’s only recently we’re starting to have our voices heard. Even men face challenges in this world as it is a ‘disgrace’ for a man to show weakness or emotions in public. So feminism is about shutting down those stereotypes so we can live in a world where men and women are treated equally. The word ‘feminism’ makes people think of the word ‘feminine’, but feminism isn’t just really about women – it’s about fighting for the equality of men too.

So in conclusion, society has a lot of things wrong with it that need fixing. I think people should be educated more in order to correct and counter these wrongs because people may have been conditioned to think certain ways, depending on the area or atmosphere they where brought up in. I could honestly go on and on as there are just countless topics to be covered but nevertheless, I want to share one last quote with you by Robert Kennedy: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.”

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