By: Nikki Pangilinan
Many people have t-shirts that say I heart NY or I heart Paris. There are countless souvenirs and trinkets you can buy in every part of the world, all to show your “love” for a particular place. Many people claim to love to travel and see the sights, whose favourite places in the world are maybe the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, or the beaches in Bali, Indonesia. Think about the natural formations such as great waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains, and the like. Many people claim to love the language of a country, the way Spanish is so romantic, and how French is so smooth. And many people claim to love all the different types of food and their unique spices.
All of the things listed are the good parts of particular places: the beauty of both natural and man-made landmarks, the manifestations of culture like its language or food, and all the other characteristics people love about certain places. However, when you truly love something, you care about it in its entirety, the good and the bad, not just because of its aesthetic value.
Global citizens should not only be concerned with the “pretty” parts of the world. They cannot say that they love a place without being necessarily connected to the issues that place is facing. Being a global citizen means dealing with the nitty-gritty as well. People can’t just reap the benefits of being in a certain place while completely ignoring its issues. If the people say they really love a place, whether it be their own country, or some other part of the world, then, it would be safe safe to assume that they’d want to preserve it.
What is the Eiffel tower if Paris is in a state of calamity? What is the Great Wall of China if you can’t even breathe the air? What is the Nile River if you can’t even get to Egypt because of political unrest? What is The Great Coral Reef if the ocean is filled with trash? You can imagine all these different scenarios where iconic places of the world are destroyed because of climate change or because of social unrest. This, unfortunately, is not so outrageous at the rate we are going.
Another important point to note is that places around the world are becoming increasingly connected; one country’s problem can easily be another’s. It is a domino effect. Even more pressing is the environmental problems we face jointly. It would be foolish to think that an ocean oil leakage in for example, Japan is not the rest of Asia’s problem. We all share the same ocean. The same goes for air pollution. We may have created borders, but climate change in one area is definitely not just one area’s problem. It affects the whole ecosystem of the earth!
That is why the UN has proposed the “sustainable development goals,” which encourages a global effort to eradicate these issues because we are all necessarily affected by them.
The first step to help achieve these sustainable goals is to be aware of them, not only through knowing what they are, but understanding why they are important and what your role to play in it is.
We are all called to save the world through little actions, like the way we treat people around us, or in the way we use our resources. There are countless opportunities to get involved such as volunteer efforts, like through AIESEC’s Global Community Development Programs, or any local ones you can find. Whatever it is, it is of paramount importance that you get involved.
We need to have an attitude that believes in these goals. We have to stop taking a helpless attitude and watch the world burn. These sustainable development goals are goals we have for the entire world. It is a movement reaching out to all people across the globe, and it is happening right now.
Will you stand by, or take part in a movement so big that it will save our generation and the generations to come?
This post is also available in: French