Ghandi didn’t have conference calls

I didn’t do any homework today. College students tend to use that phrase a fair amount. Usually the sentence is completed with because I watched six episodes of Lost or because I talked to Joe for two hours or because I was stalking people on Facebook. My sentence is a little different. I didn’t do any homework today because I spent all day trying to organize a campaign to increase environmental education.

The motive sounds rather noble when you write it out. But the means are anything but. As I think about what I did today, emailing tons of people, participating in two conference calls and helping to set up a website, all to promote a campaign that may or may not actually increase environmental education, I start to wonder. Nothing I did today benefited the environment or the education system. In fact, you could argue that by using electricity and neglecting homework I was contributing to the detriment of the very values I was aiming to uphold.

I am buried so deeply in conference calls and emails I’ve  forgotten what  I was working towards. I tried to explain this to one of my friends today, telling her that my desire to make change in the world had been replaced by my desire to clear my inbox. She told me that I was silly, that she was sure that I could name a ton of people for whom I had made a positive difference. I became very silent. I couldn’t name a single one.

Maybe instead of participating in the networks of fancy-sounding organizations such as the UN and the World Bank I should tutor at a local school. Instead of preaching endlessly about climate change, maybe I should simply lead by example. Instead of calling environmental organizations, maybe I should call home.

There are a lot of different ways to create social change. I’m just not so sure that I’ve picked the right one.