Over three months ago, Chile broke out in protests demanding social and economic equality. It was on Oct. 25, 2019 when metro prices rose which was the final straw in a long list of injustices. I had the opportunity to travel to Chile in December around the three month anniversary of the protests. It was only for three weeks, so I claim no understanding to the severity, hurt and repercussions of the protests of Chile and the Chilean people. However, returning home, I can’t help but notice: People are comfortable here, and it is for the worse.
Now, I am not saying don’t take a nap in a LA-Z-Boy or wear a giant sweater. Both are very comfortable things. But when you get comfortable, it is hard to see what’s wrong. And if you do see what’s wrong, are you going to be willing to be uncomfortable to change it? Living in the U.S. provides a lot of comfort and luxuries that I am appreciative of. However, we are falling into routines and letting comfort outweigh glaring issues that we are facing.
Last year, CWU had an active shooter scare. Unfortunately, that wasn’t unrealistic in today’s society. According to the FBI, between 2008 and 2018 there were 277 active shooter incidents in the U.S. alone. During a Hanukkah celebration earlier this year, five members of an Orthodox Hasidic Jewish congregation were killed in a stabbing. In October 2019, a 28-year-old Black American woman, Atatiana Jefferson, was fatally shot by a police officer. This is not an isolated incident, as a Black individual is three times as likely to be killed by police than a white person according to Mapping Police Violence. The list of social injustices Americans are facing is a lengthy one. We are still battling domestic violence, sexual assault, xenophobia and hispanophobia, to just name a few.
These problems don’t stand alone, but are further intertwined with economic issues we are facing. There is nationally outstanding student loan debt of $1.5 trillion dollars according to the Federal Reserve. I alone will be in tens of thousands of dollars of debt by the time I graduate with an increasingly necessary degree. More costs are raising on things like health care and housing. According to a survey taken by GOBanking Rates, in 2019, 69% of respondents said to have less than $1,000 in a savings account. In their previous years’ survey it was 58%. The survey also found 45% of responders have zero dollars in their savings account.
I am not comfortable with any of that. So why aren’t we doing anything about it?
Chile has witnessed their own inequality and has demanded change. With mostly peaceful protests, they openly criticized the government and refused to let things become part of their routine. Moreso, they are unafraid to be uncomfortable. From their protests, they’ve reached global recognition, especially with a feminist protest song that has resulted in copy-protest such as one in New York City. More importantly, the protests have resulted in a referendum in April that will discuss if a new constitution should be written to replace the charter currently in place. Chile was willing to take action and fight for what they knew needed to change. They are a wonderful example of doing what the U.S. is not doing right now: taking a stand and standing until it changes. This can take shape in many different forms, whether that be in protests, calling your representatives, donating to people and companies who are advocating for justice, creating artwork or even just reminding people that we are becoming unrightly comfortable. Most importantly, we need to take a page from Chile’s book, and get uncomfortable.