Throughout history there have been two types of people, those with great ideas and those who enacted them. Nelson Mandela was not the first to think that Apartheid was wrong but he was bold enough to stand against it.
We currently live in the most peaceful, healthiest, and prosperous era of humanity. However there are many issues facing our communities today. Whether it is global warming, extinctions, sustainable food supplies, equality or disease these issues remain unsolved not because of lack of solutions but because of lack of action.
In JFK’s inaugural address he said “man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty”. That was in 1962. Over 50 years since then a lot has changed; sadly, much remains the same. Poverty abounds, millions die from curable diseases and in the coming years these issues are set to get worse as global warming affects food supplies and aids the spread of tropical diseases.
So why are issues existing over 50 years ago still plaguing us, despite us having the resources to solve them? Many of these issues can be solved but it takes time - maybe more than 50 years. But the surprising thing is that they aren’t even being addressed on a scale appropriate to their magnitude.
So the challenge is for us, individuals, communities, nations, humanity, to overcome these problems that are far greater than the sum of our parts. Within that challenge is overcoming the resistance to change, be it from businesses, lobby groups or our own vested interests. But where we have to start is at the individual and the community level.
It is individuals coming together that endows governments and corporations with the power that they have. For instance while residential emissions are just a small part of total global emissions, compared to those produced by industry, we have to realise that industrial emissions exist only to supply our demands.
Universities are already starting these changes. They bring together a large group of intelligent thinkers many of whom would like to see changes happen. Academics and students alike are a formidable force for change.
On issues from wealth inequality to global warming students have already had an impact. The Occupy movement spread across the world and events on university campuses made international news. Currently students overseas and in Australia are lobbying their universities to remove their investments out of fossil fuel and mining companies. In the last election the Australian Youth Climate Coalition made their voices heard across all forms of media and protest.
With over 20,000 students at UNE and over a million nationwide, we can make the change. So what is your next move going to be? Find out what it is your care about, talk to your friends, decide what you are going to do, and DO IT! It might not happen immediately but keep at it. Together we can be the change.
Photo: Will Keightley; flickr.com