TFH - November 16, 2013
I am honoured to have met my Favourite Human today. A young man, who’s empathy, insight and overwhelming compassion led him to demonstrate to his fellow university students, his townspeople and to anyone who will take the time to pay attention, the desperate and imminent need to address something that effects us all.
I’m going to let his words tell the story…
“So, why did I do it. I chose to fast for climate justice because I think this is an issue badly in need of attention, and I want to introduce a new way of thinking to people, so that when they see natural disasters they see it in a new light. I want to tell people that fighting climate change is not simply a response to what the scientists are telling us. It is fundamentally a humanitarian problem, one that caused the poor countries to bear the brunt, and the rich countries have so much in their capacities to help out. People need to start realising that changing their lifestyles from a wasteful and mindless one to a efficient, sustainable and mindful are done so as to avert further typhoons like Haiyan and all the other natural disasters the earth will have us suffer. I also fast for another reason. For me, I had the choice to fast, but for many, it is out of their control whether they can eat three meals a day. I want to extract myself from this comfortable surroundings and feel more empathetic towards the deprived, by experiencing what it is like to not have food and starve.
I am inspired by what the Filipino delegate Yeb Sano said at an UN conference; my brother in Middlebury also fasted and held a vigil to commemorate the event. I think St Andrews needs such stimulus, there is apathy in this university and this town. Although news could travel almost instantly now with the technology, too many people do not know what calamities befall us, they care too little about the fates of people less privileged than themselves.
In the little poster I designed, I included a quote from John Donne’s Meditations. It says: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.’ This just so aptly captures an insight I think people lack these days in a global world as this. It is the interconnectivity of humankind, and those who have capabilities to enact positive changes to the world have to do their parts.
The experience of standing on Market Street left a deep mark. I’ve always only known students in this town, but now I’ve talked to some townspeople. I appreciated their care and their interests in what I was doing, and I felt like my idea chimed with a lot of them. I received a bottle of milk from a supportive friend, and some Filipinos who heard what I was doing came along, and one brought a guitar to sing along, as well as to raise money to help the victims. I collected over 40 signatures and I chatted to many more. But I realise how insignificant this is. I will have to think of ways to continue this, to translate idea into action, to draw people in to this cause of fighting for climate justice. The world cannot afford more drilling, fracking, burning; world leaders have to start coming to consensus; rich nations should equip the poor nations better by giving them the technology. Even though rich nations mobilised much resources to help out in the aftermath of the disasters, the damage was done, and preventative measures would do much more
Clarence Leong, you are Today’s Favourite Human. You inspire me to want to be a better person, and you are making the world a better place to be.
Let’s all do our part in the fight for Climate Justice. There’s nowhere else to go!