Editorial: Do we complain too much?

By The Beacon | February 21, 2018 7:43pm
Photo by Marina Durán on Unsplash

Being a young person in Trump's America means making your voice heard. Loudly. Proudly. Through a microphone, shouting in a protest rally, long posts on your Facebook page or Twitter threads. Some compare our generation of youngsters to the golden protest age of the ’60s: marches and sit-ins for civil rights, loud clamoring for an end to the violence in Vietnam. Those voices shaped the world we're living in today.

When you read the news reports about a group of devastated teens who lost their friends and their classmates to a storm of bullets, and their persistence to speak their minds and make their voices heard about gun violence, it's easy to imagine our young voices will shape the future of our children.

Our generation has a lot to be angry about and a lot to get loud about. Generations before us have left our planet's climate in a state of urgent disrepair, socioeconomic, racial and gender inequality continue to plague our society, and our president could send us into nuclear war through petty fights on Twitter. 

Even as students at the University of Portland, we have some causes to fight for. Victims of sexual assault have a right to be heard fairly by our administrators and a right to feel safe at our university. Our campus should be making strides towards sustainability, following President Fr. Mark Poorman's pledge to follow the Paris Accord. We deserve transparency about our health care providers and our curriculum. 

If we voice our concern loud enough and turn it into action, we could make genuine change.

But there's a balance. If you pick too many battles, you run the risk of drowning your voice out entirely. Our generation would then no longer bear the emblem of change, but instead the stench of a bunch of kids who complain too much, who don't know what they have. It's something we should genuinely ask ourselves: Do we, as a student body, complain too much?

Many of us come from privileged backgrounds. Our privilege may stem from race, sexuality, gender or socioeconomic status. Even if you’re not wealthy, you might have the privilege of coming from a home with a loving, supportive family. Or the privilege of being on a substantial scholarship, or having parents who went to college and can guide you through the experience. We may not think we’re privileged, but then we realize some of our peers don’t even have the security of being documented U.S. citizens

Privilege exists in many forms. As we experience privilege, we may not be able to see it. Because we take it for granted. Because it’s as natural to us as breathing. 

The problems we face day-to-day aren’t necessarily trivial just because someone else’s are larger, but sometimes we have to have perspective. 

As the Lenten season begins, most students choose to cut something out of their daily lives, but The Beacon recommends that we all do some inner reflecting as well. What do we complain about on a day-to-day basis? To our friends? To our colleagues? On Facebook or Twitter? Will our voices on the subject do more harm than good if we make them loud? 

When we shout our concerns, are we bringing people up? Or are we tearing them down? 

We have something good in our home here on The Bluff. Maybe we don’t see it every day. Maybe some days we wonder why we came here. We look at our mounds of student debt and wonder what we’ve gained in return. But days like Tuesday, as students ran around catching white snowflakes on their tongues, we’re reminded of the community and love our campus can surround us with. 

Is UP the perfect school? No, it’s not. The perfect school does not exist.

However, most days, UP is a good place to be. Our class sizes are small enough to where most of our professors actually know our names. We have people we can turn to if we’re feeling bad (mentally or physically), we have resources for finding jobs and internships and a tight-knit community to turn to for everything else. 

Midterms are crappy, and sometimes, so is the Pilot House food, and so is parking on campus. There are a million little things that we believe could be better, and we shouldn’t necessarily ignore them, or stop trying to improve them. But this Lenten season, let’s recognize the difference between complaining and actually improving our community, whether it’s by voicing concerns in an effective way, getting involved with a myriad of groups, or just getting in there and doing the hard work ourselves. 

Let’s keep our complaints in perspective. We should spend more time acknowledging and taking action against the big problems plaguing our society. Let’s try to think beyond ourselves. We’re allowed to rant, of course, but we can’t forget that we can actually do something to fix our problems. Or start the fixing process, however long it may be. 

Take a breath before you post that angry Facebook rant. Remember that your voice is a powerful tool that can help change our world. Make sure to use it with caution.