It may sound cliché, but I think it is safe to say that today many Americans (and those in industrialized nations in general) are obsessed with material possessions.
Let me start by saying that this is not an article on which I will stand on a soapbox.
I am as guilty as anyone else in this respect, constantly walking around with my nose to my iPhone screen checking that email that “just can’t wait” or being disproportionately upset when I get something on my favorite shirt.
Sometimes, I think we should all take a second and reflect on what is truly important in life, or how genuinely lucky we are to simply have the opportunity to attend college.
There is much we can do to improve our daily lives, and even the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves.
For example, you may have heard that Tuesday, April 10, was designated as One Day Without Shoes, an annual effort by shoe-maker TOMS to raise awareness of children in less developed countries who often live in dangerous areas without basic footwear.
For every pair of shoes you buy, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need.
This is an ingenious idea, as it appeals to the customer who gets a new pair of shoes and also to the children, who need shoes to avoid the risk of deadly infections or to even attend school.
While some may not see a good reason to walk around barefoot on campus for all or part of the day, it serves to teach people about this valuable cause.
The entire day makes us aware (at least for 24 hours and hopefully more) how much we truly have. How many of us have more than two, three or even seven pairs of shoes in our closets?
It helps us to focus our attention on innocent children who have not even one pair and will maybe even spur us into doing more to help them.
And this is just one example of basic material needs we have in abundance and take for granted almost every day (see: clean water from a tap, a roof over our head and food on-the-go in Egan or the Laker).
I’m not saying we should all put away our technology or live an ascetic lifestyle. But even awareness of how fortunate we are and small efforts to help those around us can certainly make a world of difference.