Opening of BrizMUN, 2011
10 decades ago, Britain still reigned supreme and the concept of the “Great War” was meaningless.
10 years ago, the phrase ‘War on Terror’ probably referred to a computer game.
10 months ago, you would probably have been confused if I said there was a ‘Youth Quake’ in the middle east/north Africa.
10 weeks ago, you would have probably scoffed if I had said events in Japan will change the way we look at and treat nuclear power forever.
10 days ago...well, everyone was still talking about that wedding between a certain Will and Kate...
The truth ladies and gentlemen, is that our world is changing more rapidly and in ways that we cannot even comprehend. Who knows what the world will be like when our generating in not “MUN-ing” but UN-ing for real? We truly do live in exciting times.
Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening.
Cesar Chavez once said:
You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore...
My father thinks this is not correct. He explained...
"when Hosni Mubarak the deposed Egyptian President, Gaddafi the current Libyan President who is killing his people because he is too intoxicated with power ... when they came in, they were heroes! People cheered, went out on the streets, carried them on their shoulders. To us they were saviours."
But look at them now! How can men who once, cared so much about their people be the very cause of the oppression they once freed them from? Power and corruption probably, greed, most definitely. They became the exploiters.
I come from the Middle East. I was born in Sudan in North East Africa and so what happens in that part of the world affects me directly and indirectly. Right now I feel proud to belong to a generation that is not only content to read about history but actually MAKES history ... rising up and demanding, positive change, not only for themselves but for their people.
How did this happen? In the face of these dictatorial regimes?
Well, people had access to information and knowledge about alternative ways of doing things. They became aware of a different reality and when they came together they felt that that reality is within their grasp. They also knew from the lessons of history that change requires hard work and they were willing to put in the hard work.
Their slogans were “the people want change, they want to change the regime”
They felt empowered because they were working together, collaborating, doing things and striving for results that are larger than themselves, that has impact, that has legacy.
I can imagine that some of you are thinking yea, right. Who is she kidding? How many people have ‘changed the world’? What hope do we have against the system?
Let me challenge that thought by leaving you with this:
Firstly, have hope. That doesn’t mean be naive, completely 100% idealist or oblivious to the reality of the world. But have hope. Hope in humanity, hope that people can change and hope that by through empowerment, things can change for the better.
See the thing is, at least if we have hope and strive towards it, things have the possibility of changing. If we all become armchair cynics and scepticals, what chance is there of anything happening? It’s gone from small, to nil.
Secondly, and lastly, I want you to understand this: Never underestimate the impact that you can have on a single person’s life. You might think that you are just one person, but if one person, a single person’s life is better, if a single person if empowered for having known you, then you know that your life has made a difference.
And although this doesn’t fully fit into the theme of my speech, I thought I would close with it anyway, because its powerful:
Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.