Everything needs to be talked about. Talking lights the way for our species to work together, solve problems, get past old dilemmas, and paves the way for a better tomorrow. Being able to talk about problems at home with family, schoolwork with teachers, and career difficulties with employers, all create dialogue that can lead to a profitable result for everyone. So it is the natural, “go to” remedy for many other problems, right? Unfortunately, no.
There are many problems that need to be talked about in order to solve that are simply not addressed because “it’s just not something people talk about.” Issues such as AIDS in the 1980s and 90s were often suppressed in conversation and social groups out of irrational fear. It was not until popular culture made it acceptable to talk about it that social change came from a biological problem. The timeline ranging from Rent to being able to talk openly about it on cable television span a social gap, where in spite of scientific efforts to cure the disease, the social affliction of treating the victim like a virus burned on.
Today, through groups such as Susan G. Komen and Relay for Life, cancer can be heard in daily dialogue. Where patients with prostate cancer in the past might have been too embarrassed to tell their friends, family, or sometimes even their doctors about their symptoms, can be more comfortable about what they are going through so that they can get to the other half of the battle, kicking cancer’s butt.
It seems like such a simple topic in an age where you can say pretty much whatever you want on the internet, but people weren’t always able to talk openly about what they were going through for fear of being exiled by their friends and sometimes even their families.
Silence is darkness. Darkness perpetuates fear. The best medicine to remedy the situation is to shine the light of social acceptance on the dark cloud of the unknown.
Now, that cheesy line aside, after all this is said and done we still have a few problems left over. After all, just like I said, talking is only half the battle. Organizations such as Susan G. Komen, although they do amazing work, are not perfect. Problems with going after smaller organizations for copyright infringement of using the color pink have been reported. In fact, they are monopolistic of almost all kinds of advertising that they do, which is surprising when the organization is based off of the desire to end breast cancer that they wouldn’t empower other groups to do the same.
Another shocking fact about Susan G. Komen is that it is reported to only send around 21 percent of the donations they receive (bare in mind it is entirely a non-profit organization) to research. A number that one would think to be higher given that the company does not have to pay taxes and works through volunteer networks.
The most difficult fact to accept, however, is that in spite of the blemishes on the group, they still do tremendous work to empower those who have been affected by breast cancer, to honor the memories of those they have lost, and stand up to fight their fight as well.
Everybody wants a white knight, but in many cases it just isn’t so. But that shouldn’t devalue the potential to change the lives of millions of people who are fighting through one of the hardest battles that people have to face.
This past week, we have had a group on campus work tirelessly to provide such support. I am of course talking about our kick off for Relay for Life that happened this past Wednesday and lasted the whole week through. These amazing people are truly working to change the lives of many, and I thank all of those who were involved in the making, and the execution of the event.
Our community at Gustavus is one of our most precious resources that we have. It is in part of why so many future Gusties choose to make this place their homes, and it is without a doubt why many present Gusties (myself included) chose to stay here. I encourage all of you to remember that as you work to talk with people on campus about problems big or small, do your best to talk and to listen. It might only be half of the battle, but it’s a damn important start.