It can be easy to feel hopeless seeing the tumult and unrest in the world around us. People all over the globe are suffering because of drought, war, corrupt governments and poverty, and it seems like an impossibility to help them. Here we are in our comparatively comfortable bubble, and it’s easy to become discouraged or even apathetic to the hardships of those around us. I have to admit that I have many times felt discouraged and regrettably apathetic and have wondered what I could possibly do to make a difference.

I recall an experience when I was an intern in Washington, D.C. One of my roommates and I were in our apartment when we heard what sounded like an angry mob passing by outside. We went out onto the balcony and beheld a massive group of protesters marching toward the White House in support of the Egyptian revolutionaries, a cause that I personally believed in and supported. My roommate was always and still is one to get involved and fight for what he believes in, and thus went directly for his coat so that he could join the march to the National Mall. I was reluctant and told him to go on without me, and to this day I regret not taking action and being a part of something that I believed in.

I still am somewhat introverted when it comes to getting involved with the peaceful fight for human rights, but I’m trying to improve. If any of you have similar regrets, then this week is the opportunity to redeem ourselves. It’s Human Rights Week, and there will be daily activities that will support, educate and help the cause of human rights through the work of Weber State students. STAND and Amnesty International are the two campus organizations behind the activities this week, and there are several opportunities for the less active among us to make a small, but meaningful difference.

Today there will be a panel discussion about the “plight of third-world women.” There will be several feminist organizations contributing to the discussion, and it would do all of us good to gain as much knowledge as possible about these issues, because empathy cannot be achieved in ignorance. You can see this discussion from 11:30 to 1 p.m. in Elizabeth Hall Room 229.

On Friday, there are a couple of great events planned. Also in Elizabeth Hall Room 229 from 11:30 to 1 p.m., there will be an award-winning documentary called O Little Town of Bethlehem. The documentary tells the story of Sami Award, a Palestinian activist whose Ghandian, nonviolent approach in addressing the Israel-Palestine conflict has brought a sense of humanity to the conflict and its peace efforts.

The culminating event on Friday is the Art of Peace art show and fashion show in the Union Building Ballroom at 7 p.m.. There will be a concert, a student art auction and a fashion show, all raising money for famine relief in eastern Africa. We all should know that tens of thousands, especially children, have lost their lives in eastern Africa due to the terrible famine that has swept across the region. It’s comforting to know that there are Weber State students and organizations willing to give of their time and resources to bring these events to our campus.

The events this week can make a difference in furthering the cause of human rights, but the size of that difference will depend on our efforts and support. And while the financial impact of the events may seem small in scope, the results on a personal level will be well worth the effort. We don’t have to feel hopeless, nor do we have to feel apathetic toward world events, because, through small events like those being held this week, we can make a big difference.

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