Change isn’t face time on YouTube

Tyler McAvoy, a rising junior at JMU, is working as an intern in the Be the Change office this summer.  While fielding assignments, he’s had a chance to think about change, so I asked Tyler to write a post for our blog. The English major, who plays guitar in his spare time and aspires to write for a magazine or newspaper someday, has some interesting things to say about change.  Tyler is also a third generation Duke.  His mother Amy Custer McAvoy (’81, ’84M) and his grandmother Janet Pitsenbarger Custer also attended JMU.

Here’s what Tyler has to say ….

Change

by Tyler McAvoy (’12)

When I was a kid, everyone put emphasis on “change.” Change the future, change the world, change your clothes a million times, change your hair color, change, change, change.  As I got older, I started to realize that change, like many other ideological terms in our vocabulary, has lost its definition, or at least is difficult to define.

What is change?

To many people, change is a scary thing. Being a local yokel all my life, I’ve witnessed the amazing ability of this community to not change for the past two decades. Buildings may go up, the city may expand, but the people, the people are fundamentally the same people as they were when I was a kid, and probably before then. From them I’ve learned the first aspect of change, and probably the most important: change can be a long process. It can’t always happen in days or weeks or even years. It takes decades; centuries even, to change the ideals of people, and the way they live.  Across the nation, we’re still dealing with the gender and racial stereotypes that we’ve had for centuries, though the issues and discussions may be different, the underlying problem still exists.  We’re still dealing with the class separation of the rich and the impoverished. We’re still dealing with the ecological concerns of that were started during the industrial revolution. We’re still dealing with the mindset of McCarthyism and the Cold War days.

To believe that we can’t change these things though is the biggest factor that keeps these ideologies and mindsets around. Especially my generation, and the generations that follow, if we can’t see the immediate implications of our actions, then we aren’t satisfied. We move on to something else.  We move at such a rapid rate, and multitask so well, we lack the dedication to a single cause that many of those in my parents’ generation had, and still do. Because change takes so long, my generation believes that it’s impossible to do, or at the very least, it’s not necessarily important enough to give a second thought to.

Yet, I’m digressing and making generalizations.  There are unsung heroes out there.  There are those who are working harder and harder everyday, against war, hunger, bigotry, sexism and domestic violence.  These chosen few don’t get half the recognition they deserve, yet they tirelessly work toward making the future a brighter place.  They put in the long hours and ignore our creature comforts to help those in need. They’re dedicated and passionate, and they have one thing in common: vision.

As Pericles wrote, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” Change isn’t face time on YouTube, or whether or not you can get on TV. Change isn’t fast cars, big houses, or a multi-million dollar job. Change is living your life to help people live better. Perhaps we should all remember that.

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About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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