As people all over the world have celebrated and enjoyed watching the 2014 Sochi Olympics, not even the world's oldest international celebration has hidden the chaotic and tragic reality we live in.
Not far from the games, protesters clashed with police in Ukraine, angry over the actions of a deceiving government and a scheming president with ties to Russia and Putin's own ambitions. According to BBC News, "The bloodshed in Kiev on 20 February was the worst so far. The health ministry said 77 people had been killed in 48 hours, with nearly 600 wounded."
At the Olympics itself, violence too could be found. Al Jazeera reported that Pussy Riot, a punk group that has opposed Putin and his prejudiced-influenced regime, was beaten by Cossack security patrols in Sochi as they began making a protest video.
The violence and chaos isn't limited to the European continent, however. In Istanbul, tensions between demonstrators and Turkish police have also hit a boiling point. Reported by Euronews, citizens have taken to the streets in response to "authoritarian new laws" introduced by their prime minister and stricter regulation of the Internet.
In Venezuela, protestors have also taken up arms against a tyrannical, incompetent government. According to the New Republic, the movement began due to an overreaction by the authorities against a protest in opposition of widespread crime in San Cristobal. Students came together to bring attention to the rape of a freshman at a university. The response: "five students were detained following a protest and sent to a jail hundreds of miles away ... stoking anger even further."
I bring up these events to provide a spotlight on what is occurring in the world.
We live in a world that is ripe with wrongs, with horrible injustices occurring just beyond our grasp and slightly out of our sight. While we indulge in life's pleasures, we're being deceived. There are people who will not hesitate to pull a blindfold over our eyes, trying to tell us that everything is OK when in actuality, things are far from it.
All too often, we're eager to embrace care and comfort when someone else offers it – a place where the world's problems won't touch us and opposing beliefs are just an afterthought. However, at the end of the day, those problems will still be there. We must recognize that we shouldn't shy away from the world, but instead face it. We need to educate ourselves and be aware of what's around us, both at the local and international level. Being complacent and ignoring the world doesn't make anything better – it just makes it better for us to be controlled and manipulated. In these aforementioned situations, people recognized the tyranny that was occurring to them and fought back.
In UT's own Sex Week, we see how others are trying to arbitrarily control how we think and act. Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield has lead a hate-filled agenda to suppress the event, a discriminatory plan to make sure that we do not empower ourselves and remove the blindfold of ignorance from our eyes. His recent refusal to negotiate over a meeting to answer student questions illustrates his lack of ability to compromise. While we can respect his own opinions, we cannot respect backing out of an event that is made to educate and empower students.
We must fight injustices wherever they occur. If we don't oppose those who try to arbitrarily thrust their laws and opinions on us, we'll soon find ourselves as pawns of others, blindly obeying others without a second thought. Though the stakes are high, it is worth it. These protestors understand it, and anyone else who fights against such oppression.
Jan Urbano is a senior in biological sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.