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Are You Making a Difference? If Not, Why Not?

12/03/2010 12:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I went to the opening night of The Artivist Film Festival at The Egyptian Theatre last, which runs until Dec 4. It is a festival whose mission is to strengthen the voice of advocate artists -- "Artivists" -- while raising public awareness for global causes. The film which opened the festival is a documentary called ReGeneration. I went in expecting to like it, and just to be reminded of things I already knew. But I was surprised. It was thought provoking in a way I didn't expect. It made me think about today's "Me" Generation, of which I am a part, people aged child all the way through 30's or 40's, and how the majority of this generation has become so self- focused and centered, and completely apathetic to anything outside of their realm of reality.

It made me think, what are we really doing to make a difference? We all complain about the way things are, yet most of us are not doing anything about it. Myself included. I am disgusted with the health care system, yet I don't do anything about it. I am appalled and saddened by the blatant disregard of people's lives all over the world, the genocide, the poverty, the hunger, the war -- yet, what do I do? This movie brought up an interesting point: up until our "Me" generation, there were always activists. Young people protesting Vietnam, a brave man standing in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square, whites and blacks marching together, getting beat up and arrested together, for civil rights. And what do we do now? Text "22679" or whatever to donate $5 to the Red Cross? Go on facebook and broadcast our disgust for things, yet not do anything to change it?

So, where does this apathy that the "Me" generation today has come from? Because it comes from somewhere. We have been conditioned to behave and act this way. I feel it comes from the media. We have been bombarded with images of things we MUST have. Our image, our worth, has become dependent on the clothes, cars, electronics, etc, that we have. We therefore take jobs that make us unhappy, and get stuck in a cycle of believing that the only way we have value is based on what we have. This makes us work our fingers to the bone in jobs we don't like so that we can buy these things which make us "worthy." And in working so tediously and tirelessly, we get home from work and we don't want to think. We don't have the energy to do anything. We are apathetic. All we want to do is turn on the TV, or internet. And there, in the TV and internet, are more images of consumerism, telling us that our worth is based on what we have materialistically, so we wake up the next morning to go to a job we don't like so we can make money to buy things. The cycle continues.

I don't believe life is meant to be lived like this, apathetically. The gift of life is the emotion we get to experience; the love, the sorrow, the joy. We are becoming numb because there is so much violence , bloodshed, war, and death being shown everywhere in the movies, TV, internet, and game shows, that we have become completely immune to it. We see or hear on the news that 1000 people were killed and tortured in Iraq, or about all of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina, and it's like water off our backs. No biggie. We don't feel anything. How is that ok? How is that possible, that as human beings we don't feel any grief over this? I think many of us actually don't want to feel the grief because it triggers something inside of us. Something that knows we need to do something to make a change. And we feel helpless. So we just choose to shut down.

Next time you start to shut down because you feel helpless, make a conscious choice not to shut down. And ask yourself what is one small thing you can do to make a difference? Even if it's just being kind to the homeless man on the street, even if it's just giving someone a compliment. Change starts small, one step at a time. You can make a difference. In fact, you were put here to make a difference. Baby steps. One small change at a time.

Regardless of what our "Me" generation has been taught and conditioned to believe, our worth is NOT based on what we have. It is based on who we are. And in Los Angeles, this is one of the hardest places to really own that and believe that. Take a moment to take stock of you. How you treat people, how you care about people, how you make a difference. That is your worth, that is your beauty. Not how many new apple gadgets or Prada bags you have.