Chicago and all of its glory can feel overwhelming sometimes. There’s so much going on, there are so many people going so many places and the areas in need of improvement are never ending. The problems that plague this great city may seem far too advanced and complicated for any one person to solve.
Because of this, it becomes so easy to throw our hands in the air, denying responsibility. After all, ‘what can we do?’ So we move on, ignore the issue and focus on other things. Knowing what is going on around us but feeling helpless to change anything.
This feeling also arises within our personal lives. Sometimes life appears to be too much for us to handle, our fears keep resurfacing and we feel stuck in the life we are living, unable to break outside of the mold we have been contently suffering in.
To some degree, I think these feelings are normal. The world is so big and we are mearly specks in the grand scheme of things—or so we think.
I began my freshman year at DePaul with a class called ‘Discover Nonviolent Chicago.’ Crazy. I know, with the news seemingly making a column in which they total the deaths in Chicago every weekend, nonviolent Chicago seems like a joke. And going into the class, I thought the same thing. Not to mention that I felt the violent epidemic in Chicago was out of my hands. However coming out of the class, I felt just the opposite.
The class was made of amazing, intellectual individuals. They pushed me everyday to step outside of my comfort zone and explore the sides of Chicago you aren’t ‘supposed’ to go to. In doing so, I encountered so many beautiful souls doing wondrous nonviolent work for Chicago.
There was The Peace Corner: a location in West Garfield Park for kids to go after school where they can receive homework help, play games and seek safety from the streets. Cure Violence: an organization that intervenes street violence. Precious Blood Ministry: a church that focuses on restoration and peace circles. Perspectives Middle Academy: a string of charter schools in Chicago that teach students to be global citizens and show them the power they have within them.
And within that first week, I recognized the power that I have within myself. In seeing all of the hard work that the students, volunteers and teachers were doing to protect and change their neighborhoods and Chicago, I realized that while I can’t independently change the world, I can help make a difference: person by person, helping hand by hand.
All throughout the class, my professor pressed upon us a quote he will always be known for within my heart:
“We have more power than we think.”
And once we are able to recognize that power, there is no stopping to what we accomplish.
Recently, that same professor gave a TEDx Talk at my school about mainstreaming Nonviolence. Check it out and search for the power within yourself.