Going in to my second YAV year I was so excited to find out that I would be working with the Presbyterian Ministry of the United Nations. I dreamed of all the ambassadors and delegates I would see from countries all across the world. I even dreamed that maybe if I was lucky enough, I could even see President Obama. But I knew that would be a really far fetch for me, because I’m just a Young Adult Volunteer trying to learn the ropes within the United Nations.
Well today that dream actually came true. Today was the first day where heads of state spoke at the United Nations General Assembly. At today’s meeting I heard from the Sectary General of the United Nations, the heads of states from both Brazil and Chad, and finally the the President of the United States himself, Mr. Barack Obama. It would also be the last time Obama would address the UN as president.
President Obama began by stating “I want to suggest to you today that we must go forward, and not backward. I believe that as imperfect as they are, the principles of open markets and accountable governance, of democracy and human rights and international law that we have forged remain the firmest foundation for human progress in this century.” These words ring so true in our society today. We are in a time of an overwhelming amount of changes happening; like the High Level Summit to Address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants that was held yesterday, the Black Lives Matter movement, wars and conflicts are happening all across the globe, and many other issues too. These words remind us to not be afraid of what will come next, but to stand up and play a defining role in these changes. We, both as individuals and the Church, cannot be silent, for silence leaves us in the dust.
So far most of my time here at the United Nations has been mostly attending, listening, and learning from meetings ranging on topics anywhere from refugees and migrants, women, peacemaking, and even the death penalty. Most of my work has been related to human rights. President Obama mentioned this in his speech stating that “We need to be investing in people: their skills, their education, and their human rights.” What I have learned so far shocks me to the core: How is it that we are in the year 2016 and the basic needs so many peoples around the world needs have not been met? Well this is just one of the many questions that the UN struggles to solve on a daily basis. But I don’t believe that there is just one clear or obvious answer to this question.
President Obama next quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men [and women] willing to be co-workers with God.” Well this quote speaks to me, it is a constant reminder of the work that I and all my fellow YAV’s do across the United States of America and the world. President Obama went on to say “I have seen that spirit in our young people, who are more educated and more tolerant, and more inclusive and more diverse, and more creative than our generation; who are more empathetic and compassionate towards their fellow human beings than previous generations.” These words define the generation of youth today; who cares more about service, human rights, and grass roots movements than politics and capitalism. Change is a vital step in our journey forward, and from my experience with the ideas and actions of my generation. I believe that we can do so much to make a difference in the world, especially when it comes to human rights. From all of my experiences so far I’m proud to be apart of all the influential work here at the Presbyterian Ministry of the United Nations.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.