I am going to take a wild guess and assume that between studying, making friends and enemies, maintaining one’s health, and everything else college students must juggle, most Andrews students are in the same boat as I am: uninformed and forgetful of the outside world. Ever since the café stopped showing the news on television, I have been unable to keep up with happenings around the globe. If it were not for the trending videos section on YouTube headlining America’s missile launch on a Syrian airbase that I chanced to see during a study break, I might never have heard of the event. Therefore, I thought it might be useful to update Andrews University on significant world events in the past few weeks.
Tensions are escalating globally. America has once again intervened in the Middle East, as previously stated, in response to a gas attack on Syrian citizens reportedly perpetrated by the Syrian government. The Russian government has not appreciated the move and has rebuked Washington, D.C. against further actions in the region. Only a week ago, Russian warplanes flew close to Japanese air space; this comes in the midst of heightening concerns over North Korea’s boasts that the small country now possesses nuclear capability. China and the United States are trying to work in tandem to silence the little giant.
In Europe, the Syrian Refugee Crisis continues to hammer the European Union. The Tory-led government in Great Britain proceeds with the consequences of Brexit slowly so as to acclimate citizens to the new state of international relations. What is concerning is the neo-nationalist tendencies of western nations such as America, Great Britain and even France and Germany where nativist, home-first politicians are on the rise in a major election year.
In Africa, the United States is intervening against Islamic extremists in Somalia. Civil violence continues, largely unnoticed by the world, in South Sudan. It has not expanded to Rwanda-like dimensions, but the same strain of ethnic fighting is present. In the very south, in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma is becoming increasingly unpopular with his political allies and constituents.
In Latin America, the ruling party of Venezuela has taken measures to prevent its opponents from gaining office, triggering a mass of protests. Cuba’s process of opening its borders and society to the outside world is going smoothly, and Andrews University is even participating by sending students and missionaries over the summer.
Even as I write this, I grow weary at the condition of our world. To be honest, the glamor and the show that we see on social and commercial media hardly portrays how pitiful the state of the world is. As I also study the world wars in my Western Heritage class, I cannot help but see the parallels between now and then. Optimists prior to the First World War wrote that war was impossible because globalization had produced an intertwining web of international trade interests that discouraged war. Prior to the Second World War, America refused to further involve itself in foreign entanglements or to allow in Jewish refugees—and we all know how that story goes.
Reality is a lot more brutal than for which we sometimes give it credit. But to hide ourselves in the apparently cozy confines of Instagram and Facebook and the pursuit of our careers, we neglect the truth. I believe the truth, no matter how inconvenient, should always be embraced. I am not saying either that we need to encourage our government to fix the world’s problems. Rather, we should remember that there is more to life than graduate school or our finals, girls or boys, shoes and clothes. There are hurting people in the world; if that means God calls you to student missions, to a new major, to charity work or even just to be a kinder and better person to those around you, then so be it.