As John Mayer put it, we’re all just “waiting on the world to change.”
If you’ve never heard the pop song that topped the charts in 2006, here’s a recap: Mayer with his raspy voice and acoustic guitar sings about how the world’s problems are too complex for our generation to fight. The upbeat song earned Mayer the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2006.
On Monday, President Barack Obama addressed the world in his second inauguration speech. He spoke of achieving American ideals. He addressed the problems of the world Mayer’s fans coon in their cars when his song comes on the radio — global warming, gender inequality and war.
But, instead of using Mayer’s words and telling the more than 800,000 who flooded the National Mall to hear his speech and the rest of the world that “It’s hard to beat the system when we’re standing at a distance” he urged Americans, old and young, wealthy and poor to act.
As citizens, we “have the power to set this country’s course,” according to Obama. Obama’s right. Mayer’s wrong.
We, as Americans, shouldn’t be waiting for others to change our country’s course. We have the power to create a better America.
And there’s no better place than to create that change than on a college campus. As Penn State students, we have the power to express our voices and to fight for change. I have seen this first-hand in the five semesters I’ve been at University Park.
I’ve seen students rally at Old Main for lower tuition. I’ve watched students speak with Pennsylvania legislators about state appropriations in their offices within the Capitol. I’ve watched students raise millions of dollars for pediatric cancer. I’ve seen students wrap arms around each other and light candles in times of mourning.
If we as Penn State students can create so much good on a college campus in Central Pennsylvania, there’s no stopping us from changing the world.
We can raise awareness for sexual violence by walking in the Take Back the Night walk later this semester. We can break down cultural barriers by interacting with others who make up our diverse student body. We can become well-rounded students and problem solvers by participating in class and sharing ideas with classmates.
Once we graduate with diplomas in hand, we will be better equipped to change the world.
Education is required to tackle problems facing the nation, like developing sustainable energy, which Obama highlighted during his speech. Obama specifically noted the severity of solving the energy crisis to Penn State students in 2011. He applauded Penn State’s research that helped develop a clean energy hub at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Whether you believe in Obama’s ideals or not, there’s no room to belittle the importance of a college education, especially a Penn State degree.
Right now, we have the opportunity to freely explore our passions. Whether you want to join Obama in tackling the energy crisis or want to write the next great American novel, now is your time to set your own path.
We live in a country that was founded on the ideals of democracy. We have the right to do whatever we want in life. We should value the ideals our founding fathers set forth in the Declaration of Independence more than 200 years ago.
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began,” Obama said to the thousands who waived American flags and cheered his name at the inauguration.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a republican, democrat, liberal or independent. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Asian or Hispanic. We all have the same unalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
So, “me and all my friends,” let’s get this straight: We have the power to be heard, not “misunderstood.” No one can tell us “we stand for nothing” and there a million ways we can make a difference.
Sorry, John. You’re wrong when you say, “There’s no way we ever could.”
Christina Gallagher is a junior majoring in journalism and is The Daily Collegian’s Wednesday columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.