Opinion: My goal – be present



Christina Bucciere

Earlier this summer, I was very happy to learn about Kent State sophomore Zoe Burch’s quick response to a potential threat made in an online chat room against a Pennsylvania high school. Her decision to bring the threat to the attention of the Kent State police, who subsequently notified the appropriate Pennsylvania police station, is just the kind of behavior I find myself striving to work into my daily routine: to be present. As a student journalist, this is a behavior I am required to practice, but that doesn’t mean it comes by nature. Just like everyone else, I can get wrapped up in my own world too easily, but the more I study journalism, the more I realize the importance of being present in my surroundings. Primarily, this is important for me so as not to miss out on interesting stories, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the significance of being present in the moment holds for my duty as a citizen.

I can’t remember where I heard this, but it’s something I’ll never forget: Almost 100 percent of the time, people who commit suicide first tell someone they will. This is the kind of moment that I want to be present for should it ever occur, and, hopefully, be able to intervene. I would never be able to reconcile my own pre-occupations with a missed opportunity to help someone in need, which is why I am deciding to make a conscious effort to be more aware of my surroundings and interactions with others. Suicide prevention is on the extreme side of the spectrum when it comes to recognizing signs of distress or possible threats, but maybe if we think in terms of extreme situations, we will be more prepared for the milder circumstances.

If you see something, say something. It’s a popular mantra that has come into play in recent years regarding homeland security, but it’s also a phrase that speaks volumes about the responsibility we all have to be cognizant of our surroundings. Now Kent State has a new phrase: Step up and speak out. This is the motto of the new campus-wide campaign launched primarily by health services and the Kent State police to cultivate a culture of togetherness. You might start to see posters around campus advertising this campaign, advocating the importance of taking initiative when faced with potential threats or distressed individuals. The campaign asks us to protect our campus and our community by being the contributor instead of the bystander.

We have busy lives full of obligations and responsibilities that divert our attention and consume our time. This is the life of a college student. But we often forget, myself included, about our role as a member of the Kent State community, and, in a wider sense, the world. Maybe you won’t agree, but I believe we all have an unwritten obligation to look out for one another. I don’t believe this for any other reason than the intrinsic pull I feel to run to the fallen or stand up for the defeated. And I know I’m not the only one. We saw it in Boston.

Stepping up and speaking out is the perfect way of reiterating the importance of being present. If we all took a little more time to be observant of the behaviors and actions around us, our potential to halt violent acts or help someone in a desperate situation is unlimited. And wouldn’t it be nice, when all else fails, to know your community has your back?