The One Young World Flag Ceremony is important. Here’s why.
I admire Sir Bob Geldof. He has a relentless passion for making our world a better place, in particular for those most excluded. Alas, when he described the flag ceremony in Bangkok as, ‘cute,’ I disagree. For me, it was just as galvanising as listening to some of the incredibly inspiring speeches given by my fellow One Young World delegates.
The Flag Bearing Ceremony is a unique and powerful display of diversity. In all, 196 countries were represented at the 2015 summit in Bangkok; never before had I been in the presence of representatives from so many parts of the world at one time. Right at the end came the One Young World flag; the flag that binds us all together. Forget the first 196; the principle of unity behind this final flag is what matters, now more than ever.
Why? We are increasingly letting fictional lines on a map define our relationships. That’s all they are- borders do not objectively exist. Yet, we insist on dividing ourselves and these chasms are becoming ever more pronounced, be they national, religious, racial, gender or whatever.
Populist figures and organisations do not want you to think of society as One Young World. They propagate an ‘us’ and ‘them’ society based on fear and exploitation.
Most recently, Donald Trump called for a ban on ‘all Muslims’ entering the US. Scarier than the announcement itself is the overwhelming support he has.
Katie Hopkins took this to the point of dehumanisation when she described refugees as ‘cockroaches,’ disturbingly echoing similar sentiment to that which led to genocide in Rwanda and Nazi Germany.
Islamic extremists such as Boko Haram and Daesh are brutally butchering those they see as their enemy, such as Yazidis or ‘infidels’ in Paris.
Governments squabble over who should bear the brunt of tackling climate change, almost indifferent to the devastation this will have to some of the world’s poorest (COP21 was a start, though execution is now what matters).
Others endure the dark side of capitalism. 36 million people live as modern slaves. Millions more find themselves in precarious jobs or sweatshops to fuel consumerism in the West- 286 million people live in working poverty on $4 a day or less.
These abuses of humans by fellow humans are borne from division, from a selfish and self-preserving ‘us and them.’ Yet, the most humongous, critical issues facing humanity are now global in nature; extremism, climate change, a refugee crisis and more. They require us to come together as fellow homo sapiens to find global solutions.
That’s why the flag ceremony was not ‘cute.’ On arrival of the One Young World flag, we put nationalism behind us and saw ourselves not as 196 separate countries; we saw ourselves as one world. We put our similarities above our differences. And, where the global average age is under 30, we are one, young world with huge potential in front of us to change things for the better. For once, let’s start acting like it. Our future depends on it.
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Harry Davies is a One Young World Ambassador from the UK. You can follow him on Twitter here.