"'Acta Non Verba' (Deeds Not Words)" by Joshua M. Asaro
Joint Second Prize, Undergraduate Category, Essay Contest 2014
February 4, 2015
Joshua M. Asaro, age 22, is currently finishing his undergraduate studies at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Upon graduation he looks forward to applying ethics on a daily basis as a military officer. "I am the proud husband of Emily Laura Asaro, who motivates me daily to become a better human being, leader, and writer."
In a world where information travels more and more quickly each day, we find ourselves living in an age where patience (in general) is decreasing while situational expectations increase. Seemingly masters of our own destiny behind our keyboards and smartphones, there has never been a time in the history of man when individuals had more access to information and power under their command lying at their fingertips. Online banking, investing, shopping, even ordering food online makes it so that less and less physical effort must occur for the average task, and more and more work can be done with the click of a mouse.
Social media connects people, allows us to share topics of interest, brings our attention to publicized injustice, and has ushered in the era of "like" button activism as a result. The average teen or young adult, seeing the impact such connectivity has had on their lives, expects that this is a legitimate form of assistance; that each "retweet" is a battle won, and that every additional person to know about some social imperfection is another champion for their cause. Like a character from the (now former) NBC show "Community" said, it is simply assumed that "once the internet knows about something, it changes." Caught in the delusional assumption that information is all that is required, we see well-intentioned attempts at improvement fail due to lack of backing, but more often (and frankly more poignantly), lack of action. If we are to see growth in our society in the next 100 years, we have got to see an end to the days where words supplant deeds.
It is a problem that goes back much further than the days of the internet. Naturally, mankind has the propensity to see the flaws and annoyances of their situation, and has (especially the past few hundred years) developed the revolutionary mentality to attempt to induce change to right those wrongs. Look around you. Are we not alive in a time where the public cries out for change? Do we not see our streets filling with protests, and hear the voices of the discontent crying for something more? We flock to elect leaders promising change. We yearn for the days of refreshing respite, where our wounds can be healed and our futures look brighter. So how have we not yet stumbled upon these promised lands? Why have our protests done so little? The answer is that too often our world relies simply on the passing of word, and not on resolution. In our mass connectivity we assume that passing on knowledge is now simply enough. That each share, or "retweet," if passed along enough will eventually land on the screen of the few who will champion it. In short, we have evolved into a people that will gladly speak, but rarely act to further a goal. Even in the United States' famous democracy, we see our streets filled with protestors, but have a problem getting people to vote. There are no shortages of those willing to speak up about their iniquities, but getting those same speakers to take up the cause and see it through to change is another issue.
What I would like to see happen during this century would be for society to stop looking for ways to complain about the imperfections of the world, and start looking at ways to address them. At every job I've held, every institution I've been a part of, and every culture I've experienced, I have noticed this seemingly natural tendency for people to complain about the status quo much more than they actively improve it. We consume ourselves with the transgressions of the moment so thoroughly, yet we rarely take action to solve those same problems for ourselves or others. This is an incomplete action! This is worthless saber-rattling! If we want to make the world a better place we must diagnose the problem, then work to fix it. Spotting the problem is not enough. Passing it along is not much better. As Henry Ford once said, "Don't find fault, find a remedy."
To improve our global situation each one of us must begin to take the initiative. That is what I would like to see. We that would sit here with a vision and a voice of how the world can improve owe it to ourselves and our societies to lead our respective charges and attempt to have our ideas come to fruition! Not all good causes will gain momentum, and not all causes that gain momentum will be good; but there was never a revolution that started in silence. As leaders it is time for us to see in this world of amplified reach that now, more than ever, we have the opportunity for our actions to reach further and do more. There are numerous tools available for anyone to organize and help, if only we can get over our "share" mentality and move on to a "care" mentality. We cannot forsake the spirit of the men of action that got us to this point simply because there are new and convenient ways of accomplishing things. Though our causes may have changed, and our resources are much different, it is the willingness of man to stand for that which he believed in that brought our society to this point.
Over the next 100 years, our world will likely continue its trend of increased connectivity and global communication. So if we, the visionaries, were to take our ideas and ideals and turn them into action; if we stopped simply mentioning our complaints and instead started to take a stand for the change we wanted to see, I think we’d find an ever-expanding world waiting at the ready to help us. If our soap-box champions and our "like" button activists became our protestors, our advocates, or our civic leaders, we would see this world change for the better much sooner than one century from now. The next great ideas and next great movements are likely already out there. They're just waiting for those inspired few to lead them into greatness, and that is what I would like to see.