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Watching the Eclipse When the World is Not at Peace

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.

August 21st proved to be a historical moment as the moon moved between the Earth and the Sun, granting a partial solar eclipse for those of us watching from Virginia and a total solar eclipse for many people watching around the country. This moment had been being hyped up for months, but I had been distracted by other recent events and I had not yet made plans to watch the eclipse. While I only caught it for a moment, there was still something awe-inspiring about this natural phenomenon, as well as the notion that so many people across the country were doing the same thing I was doing, which briefly created a sense of national unity.


Photo Courtesy of National Geographic


Despite the momentary feeling of peace the eclipse may have brought, I recognize that I do not live in a peaceful world at this moment in time. This feeling was only reaffirmed for me when I saw coverage from an ABC broadcast of the 1979 eclipse. The anchor of the segment, Frank Reynolds, signed off with a rather hopeful prediction for the eclipse that would take place 38 years later.


Photo Courtesy of Tumblr


There is no question that his prediction for the 2017 eclipse did not come true. This eclipse did not fall on a world at peace. As a student at U.Va., this lack of peace is not just a heartache we can feel around the world, but something we also find rooted in our own backyard. There are many things that need to be done before we will live in ‘a world at peace.’ The path to this ideal will be long and arduous, and there is certainly no easy solution. However, we don’t need to tackle the whole world at once. We can start with problems that we find in our own community.

Bigotry and racism are systems built on a perceived hierarchy, but hierarchies are not sustained by the few who believe themselves to be at the top. It is those at every level, who assume that this is the way things are, that confirm the status quo, who ultimately support systems of inequality. And it is only those who actively challenge it that have a chance at dismantling it.


Photo Courtesy of the Guardian


Following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, white supremacist groups planned to continue their rallies in cities across America, from San Francisco to Boston. Many people feared for a continuation of violence, but large numbers of counter-protesters came out to oppose them, effectively scaring off these hate groups for the moment by showing them that their perceived hierarchy would not stand. These displays of activism make a difference and they must continue.

We, as students, need to make a concerted effort towards change in the communities to which we belong, to recognize the long and often shameful history of our country and the systems of power that reinforce inequality. The fact that we are not currently in a world at peace should not be discouraging, but a reminder of the work we can, and must, do to make longstanding structural change. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”



Third-year Media Studies and Art History student at U.Va!