In 2030 you will no longer be young ...

Published: Friday, 25 September 2015 Written by Marie-Ange Emanuel

In 2030 you will no longer be young.  What changes would you like to see in the world in 15 years' time?

Like the actress, Lupita Nyong'o, "my dreams are valid".  I am just a soon-to-be sixteen year old from a seldom recognized country in the Caribbean: the Commonwealth of Dominica, population seventy thousand.  Nonetheless, I allow my vision to see beyond my small island and conceptualize a world I would like to live in.  Fifteen years from now, in 2030, I would like to be content with the life I am living, and for my children to have the same ideal.  How can one be satisfied with her life and the lives of her children if she is not first satisfied with the world around her?  I hope that the positive change the world needs to recognize soon appears.  These changes include that of environmental protection, religious tolerance and respect, affordable cost of living, justice for those experiencing child labour, and more positive leaders in and for youth. I pray that the days of conveying the need for global change by simply writing about it in an article, or posting it online, are soon coming to an end while action takes its place.
In a document entitled, "Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Tools", the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states: "For development to be sustainable – to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs – it is essential that people take into account environmental concerns just as strongly as they concentrate on economic progress".  The Earth is God's most precious gift to man.  However, man continues to disregard the worth of this gift by systematically destroying it.  I hope that the dawn of 2030 will bring with it new environmentally conscious mindsets in people.  The peoples of the world can put their efforts together today to ensure that fifteen years from now, global environmental problems would not have gotten worse.  This includes recycling all possible materials so as to not consume better used space in landfills.  Not many give a mere second of thought to exactly what will happen to landfills full of non-biodegradable materials.  Where will we store them?  After the awareness and pleas increase with the years, I anticipate that individuals and factories would have made strides to decrease carbon emissions by 2030.  In cases where such toxic emissions cannot be avoided, technology would be introduced or advanced before they are released into the atmosphere.
In the words of Muhammad Ali, "Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams - they all have different names, but they all contain water.  Just as religions do - they all contain truths".  I agree with Ali's quote, and firmly hope that there would be more religious tolerance by 2030.  I also hope that by then, each person would see the importance in designating time to be educated on the doctrines of others' religions.  No longer would someone be denied a job, service or good because he/she believes in and worships something or someone contrary to a majority of people.  The letter, "A Common Word Between Us and You", addressed to Pope Benedict XVI by one hundred and thirty-eight Muslim scholars, effectively conveyed the message that the population of Muslims and Christians makes up half of the world, and if there is to be any peace within it, these two religious groups would need to work together.  This letter should serve as an example to everyone to put all differences aside with anyone we have shared a religious discrepancy with, and reach out to that person for the sake of peace.  Finally, I believe that one reason why the world has religiously-based conflicts today is because of lack of tolerance and respect for one another's right to worship who and what they want.  This lack of respect could be why extremists are led to take egregious measures.  Hence, I hope that the stereotypes and other unfounded provocations, be it in reality, newspapers or online will diminish in fifteen years.  Whether a Muslim wears a turban, a Rastafarian wears his dreadlocks and liberation colours, or a nun wears habits does not make that person any less human.
In the world of today, the gap between rich and poor is painfully and unmistakably evident.  In many countries, the items and services that are basic to the wealthy are essentially luxurious to the poor; the cost of living is comfortable for the rich but astronomical for those in the lower economic strata.  I envisage a 2030 when the disparity between the rich and the poor is almost unrecognizable, so that each group of persons will share a similar experience where the cost of living is concerned.  It is my vision that the cost of living will be commensurate with salaries, which, for any category of worker, will be enough to ensure luxury in 2015, become basic in 2030.  Indeed, even in 2030, one would expect that a neurosurgeon would be wealthier than the garbage collector.  My vision is that the neurosurgeons of the world would invest in communities of the garbage collectors, to assist in effecting a sufficient level of economic equity that will deter them from feelings of ill will and inequality which may well discourage them from committing various crimes within their communities.
The great scientist Albert Einstein once said, "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing".  Onlookers are just as bad as the culprits when they do not seek justice that is denied in, for example, child labour.  Despite reports that child labour has globally decreased, the International Labour Organization (ILO) states that "There are 13 million (8.8%) of children in child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean".  I dream that this figure, especially alarming to me as I live in that region, may be near zero by 2030.  I would like to see a change in the world from saying that justice should be for all, to confidently attesting that justice is for all.  In fifteen years, all children around the world will live like children should. They will laugh, and play and attend school and have lasting friendships.  They will not be working in sweat-shops, will not be sex slaves, and will not be child soldiers.  The 'Convention on the Rights of the Child' to which many nations are signatory – hopefully all nations by 2030 – will be fully implemented and adhered to.
As a young woman, I speak on behalf of the youth when I say that there are so many issues we would like to give input on.  Expectantly by 2030, some adults would not view young people as inferior beings whose contributions are unimportant.  Even the Commonwealth has recognized the capabilities of young people, making the theme for 2015, "A Young Commonwealth".  It would be refreshing to observe an increase in the number of youth leaders worldwide.  This hope does not refer solely to youth leaders, but young role models who light the path for those who succeed them.  It is often said that the young mirror the actions of the old, therefore, I long to finally see every famous or influential adult using his/her status in a positive way which can uplift the youth.  Gone would be the days when particular celebrities preached messages of violence, promiscuity, reckless living, and the denigration of women such as in the lyrics of their songs.  Celebrities, by their very lifestyles, would serve as positive examples for our young people to emulate.  No more would they be involved in criminal behaviour, or conduct themselves in immoral ways contrary to long standing accepted morals.  A divergence from these morals may be the cause of many of today's problems among the youth.  In 2030, there should be a return to these standards which served our parents and grandparents well.
As I reflect on the world, it is clear to me that without some changes, I will be unable to live comfortably in it in fifteen years.  Advancements in environmental preservation, religious freedom, affordable cost of living for the poor, stopping child labour, and attending to youth matters, will seal a beautiful future.  Readers, I will never admit to drastically changing this world on my own in the short time span of fifteen years.  I encourage you to join forces with me, using the suggestions I have provided, so that we can make 2030 a year we can all be proud of.

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