It’s All Mutual

by Ibtesham Hossain, United World College Maastricht
10 February, 2022
Illustration by Thalia Lembong

Present day youth are growing up with a rather onerous notion. Advancing towards adulthood, the ‘Generation of Changemakers’ have been burdened with the task of saving the world from its impending doom. As of this moment, many are familiar with the fact that world sea levels are rising. Yes, global warming exists and we cannot allow the Earth to become 1.5C hotter than the pre-industrial level. Consequently, to our misfortune, estimations show that we are most likely to surpass this limit. Defeated by our own actions, we grieve that this is only one of the innumerable difficulties humanity faces.

Just when humanity had grasped the gravity of the situation and the need for change, we were confronted by yet another enemy. After an entire century, the world was now frozen by the spell cast upon us by this pandemic. More than a year has passed since, and although considerable progress has been made towards eliminating this threat, humanity has only launched themselves into more violence, conflict and bloodshed. Terrorism and injustice scattered across this planet. To our greater misfortune, climate change remains to be a formidable opponent. One that must still be confronted. As much as we would all love to press pause until we have solved our existing problems, humanity can no longer afford to do that AGAIN. A world of responsibility hangs on the shoulders of the youth, the ‘changemakers’, while the old say  “Well, we’ve done our part.” 

At this pivotal moment, we are beyond just raising awareness. We look towards world leaders, the ones in power, to hold conferences and fantasize that they will save the world overnight. Unmotivated to take action on our own as we are clouded by a sense of hopelessness. Almost as if we have all accepted that the world is coming to an end or choosing to be blind towards it. The future of the planet remains unsure while we put our faith in a certain group of individuals. At this point of time it is crucial for all of us to contribute to our fullest. A matter of mutual responsibility to respect the earth that we live in. 

Littering, a disgusting and damaging habit, normalised in the streets of Dhaka, if not all over Bangladesh. I or any other individual may feel no shame in throwing a plastic bottle on the side of the road. Why? The reason being that everyone does it. If told not to, our persistent nature insists on still doing it. Why? The response is usually ‘Shobai toh kore, ami keno thambo’ (everyone does it, why should I stop). A change in the pattern of thinking is required. One cannot expect others to make adjustments that they cannot commit to themselves. First step: believe in the movement yourself. Fix your own actions, and in time with confidence advise others. All this can start with one pledge. A pledge to oneself.