EspañolA few days ago, I was accosted at gunpoint as I walked back to my home in Guayaquil, Ecuador. “Give me your things!” the assailant demanded. “Why?” I asked. Surprised by my response, he screamed, “Give me your stuff now!”
“Tell me what I’ve done to you and why you’re robbing me,” I responded. He then stared at me, and told me to go.
Why did I say this? I don’t know. Why did he let me go? I don’t have an answer for that either. What I do know is that behind every criminal, as with any person, there is a long story, and it certainly isn’t a happy one.
As I pondered the ordeal, the last thing I said to the assailant came to mind. He probably would have told me that he wouldn’t harm me, but that he didn’t have a job and needed the money to pay for his children’s school. Or that he earned very little, and because he didn’t finish school he couldn’t find a better job. Or maybe his wife was sick, and he couldn’t afford the medicine she needs.
Whatever the case, all these hypothetical answers are related to a lack of opportunity (and I am not referring to socially engineered equality). These are the types of problems that citizens of this country confront on a daily basis, while politicians try to convince us that everything is hunky-dory.
It is sad to see so many young university students unable to find work, while the government of Rafael Correa inundates us with propaganda about how the Citizens’ Revolution continues. Likewise, it pains me to see children begging on the streets, while our political representatives continue to approve laws that benefit a select few and harm the majority of citizens under the pretext of “Good Living.”
— Corte Constitucional (@CorteConstEcu) November 9, 2014
But worst of all, our government officials reform and repeal at their convenience, while a sizable segment of the population lift not a finger to do anything about it. The Constitutional Court of Ecuador recently made their lack of impartiality blatantly clear by approving a constitutional amendment to allow indefinite reelection. They are letting the rulers of our country stay in power in perpetuity, and we are doing nothing to stop it!
We must be the ones to initiate the change we want to see in our society.
How is it possible that we sit back with our arms crossed in the face of so many abuses? How is it possible that institutions in this country are so conspicuously absent, but citizens sit idly by as though things will change on their own? Thinking that societal change must be top down from public policy is not only wrong, it borders on irresponsible. We must be the ones to initiate the change we want to see in our society.
I want to live in a freer society, where greater benefits and opportunities will be available to me, my loved ones, unemployed university students, children begging in the street, and even the armed assailant who decided not to rob me. And this is why I will continue promoting the idea of freedom to all of those around me; and I know all the young people who are a part of Students for Liberty in Latin America will do the same in their respective countries.
To all of those who read this, I ask you two things: first, if you are ever assaulted do not react the way I did. The fact that I am even able to relay this story is a stroke of pure luck. And second, end this rational ignorance that brings about so much damage to our society, and make things happen.
Translated by Alex Clark-Youngblood. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.