Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “As my sufferings mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” Easier said than done, the path to seek a transformation of suffering is a laborious one, which sometimes necessitates sacrifices. That being said, it seems like there are people who are willing to make sacrifices for their causes. Cynics may argue that some people are willing to make sacrifices to gain fame and fortune, and not for the selfless pursuit of promoting their causes. However, I am of the opinion that people are more willing to make sacrifices for their causes today because of the significance of celebrity culture, higher expectations that people have in their governments today and feelings of unfairness if they are not entitled to merit goods or benefits provided by other countries.
Some people claim that they are more than willing to make sacrifices for their causes. These people show others their determination in championing for their causes by making ‘sacrifices’. However, these sacrifices could be done – sadly, in pretence to gain fame and fortune, and not for causes that these people claimed to promote. An apt example to illustrate this point is Somaly Mam, a Cambodian anti-trafficking advocate campaigning against trafficking of young girls for commercial sex. After Mam’s compelling story of being “abused, trafficked and traumatized as a sex slave” was made into a Hollywood movie, she turned into an international celebrity – setting up the Somaly Mam Foundation, raised money, appeared on major television programs, and spoke at many international events. Mam was known for her willingness to sacrifice her family’s security to champion her cause for anti-human trafficking – as shown from her claims that her daughter was kidnapped by human traffickers in retaliation for her work with victims of the sex trade. However, journalists recently learnt that she had fabricated much of her life story that had been used to raise millions of dollars in the Somaly Mam Foundation for over a decade, allowing her to lead a life of fame and power. Not only did Mam illustrate her unwillingness in making sacrifices for her cause, it also shows how causes can be exploited for material gains. Even if some are willing to make sacrifices, these ‘sacrifices’ may be done in the selfish pursuit of fame and fortune, or perhaps, merely attention.
However, I am of the view that most people are more willing to make sacrifices for their causes today because even celebrities are tapping on their popularity to propagate their causes. Coupled with the advent of social media platforms enhancing communication between celebrities and fans, the significance of the impact that celebrities have on their fans in championing their causes is undeniable. In the recent Black Lives Matter campaign, which protests against incidents of police brutality against African-American people, many celebrities have publicly spoken out to garner support for the movement. An example to illustrate this would be John Boyega, who is a well-known Star Wars actor. Boyega gave a powerful speech at a Black Lives Matter rally in London, urging his fellow demonstrators to press on and continue fighting to end racism against African-American people. Countless celebrities have also taken to their social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, to speak up against police brutality towards Black people. Many have even provided resources online for their followers and fans to access, so as to better educate themselves on the matter. Some celebrities such as Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds even made a $200,000 donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund upon hearing of Georg Floyd, a black man’s murder by policemen. Therefore, this demonstrates how celebrities are able to tap on their popularity and large fanbase to make a difference in inspiring change in society. Therefore, it is justifiable to claim that people are more willing to make sacrifices for their causes today as seen by the acts of certain celebrities.
Furthermore, the higher expectations that people have in ruling governments today have resulted in uprisings and protests – done with the aim to propagate social causes. The use of social media platforms to spread political beliefs has seen the overthrow of two presidents, Hosni Murbarak and Morsi from the Egyptian government since the Arab Spring. Hence, the power of social media in championing social causes is undeniable which has led to people becoming more willing to sacrifice their lives for their causes because their sacrifices are now, at the very least, seen by the public eye. Another example would be the demonstrations that begin in Ecuador in 2019. When the government announced that it was taking public spending cuts agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), this change led to a sharp rise in petrol prices, which many said they could not afford. Indigenous groups feared that the measure
would result in increased costs for public transport and food, and that their rural communities would be hardest hit. Protesters blocked highways, stormed parliament and clashed with security forces as they demanded an end to austerity and the return of fuel subsidies. The government backed down after days of mass protests and the action came to an end. From these examples, it is clear that rising expectations that people have in ruling governments have led to increased willingness among people to make sacrifices for their causes today.
Moreover, I agree with the view that people are more willing to make sacrifices for their causes today because they are subjected to feelings of unjust given that they may not be entitled to certain benefits or merit goods in the country. These feelings of unfairness are further exacerbated when governments of other countries are able to provide the citizens with what they want and need, thus leading to a higher quality of life. An example to illustrate this is Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani school pupil and education activist, who is known for her activism for rights to education and for women, especially in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Despite an assassination attempt to kill Yousafzai and her father by the Taliban, she continues to advocate for rights of women to education, and even spoke at the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education. Yousafzai’s sacrifice of her safety – _as shown by how the Taliban attempted to assassinate her – enabled her to further her cause to promote education for women. It was done with the aim to eradicate violation of womenb’s right, where a lack of provision of education to women has resulted in the unfair and inhumane treatment towards women. Another person who has made sacrifices to stand up strongly for what she believes in is 17-year-old Greta Thunberg. Thunberg began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read: “School Strike for Climate Change’. In the time since, she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history. This shows the strength in Thunberg’s belief in environmental preservation, and how she truly believes that change must happen in the world, such that she is willing to make sacrifices to inspire people to share her vision. Therefore, feelings of unjust have resulted in activists such as Malala being willing in making sacrifices which they deem to be for a worthy cause.
In essence, while some people may argue that people today make sacrifices because of ulterior motives that they may have such as gaining international popularity and not to simply promote their causes, my stand is that people today are more willing to make sacrifices because of a genuine need to promote their causes. The influence of celebrity culture, rising expectations of ruling governments and feelings of unfairness felt by people would further enhance their willingness to effect societal change. Therefore, it is justifiable to argue that people are more willing to make sacrifices for their causes today.