Having been part of the Atlas Corps’ bloggers cohort to the Social Good Summit #2030NOW from 22-24 September in New York was indeed something very special. Not only did I get to see royalty, rockstars, corporate bigwigs and honourable dignitaries all in one stage but I actually got to play a role in a worldwide discussion on how social media can help solve some of the most pressing problems of our time. In those three days of what I call high-level meetings, I was privileged to have been granted an audience with the brightest change agents for everyone who has ever dreamed of re-creating our world. The line up of guest speakers was absolutely crazy! I would love to write about all of them for they each have compelling stories to tell but I would limit my words to only a handful favorites: Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who committed to promote women’s health and to fight discrimination against AIDS/HIV; Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson, who spoke bravely about open defecation; Linkin Park bandmates Rob Bourdon and Dave ‘Phoenix’ Farrell, who most obligingly retweeted my shout out about their mobile social game called “Recharge”; Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who humored everybody with the coming-of-age millennials who are marching behind him with the climate change agenda; the unforgettable education activist Malala Yousafazai, who empowered the vulnerable with her passion to live life with intention; and cause-marketing campaigner Simon Isaacs, who shared the best advice on “coopetition” (cooperation-competition) in the nonprofit sphere. Meeting all these thought innovators and grassroots movers up close and personal was an antidote to pessimism, pushing me ever more to exercise my right as a global citizen to act now and not tomorrow. I believe that doing social good is not about reinventing the will but transcending one’s self to change from within. From this place, possibilities will blossom and will bear fruit in humanity’s passion to do social good.
Pondering on the question, “What values by which I live that give purpose and meaning in life?”, I was prompted to create my little act of kindness for the day upon seeing an old lady pull out an oversized duffel bag from the overhead stowage aboard a flight New York – Atlanta. I offered a hand that she was most thankful for and it really felt mmm mmm good! From the airport, I hopped on a train to go home and that was when my emotion turned into pain. My littlest right pinkie of the same hand that did some social good twitched and got bent, perhaps from the accidental trauma it bore by lifting down an old woman’s heavy carry on luggage. What followed after that was a series of attempts to visit the closest urgent cares and to insist on an under-the-radar insurance to cover my medical needs. From one health center to the next, I had my share of adventure in finding which one would take my insurance seriously. The urgent care I sought for a tiny finger turned out more than six hours in the making which made me miss a whole day’s work. At the end of the day, I walked away happily from the out-patient room with an x-ray test result which showed ‘no broken bone’ and a splint on my pinkie which only took the orthopedic care personnel less than a minute to complete.
In Bali, Indonesia a historic first blue crown was won by Megan Young, the Philippines’ representative to Miss World 2013. She captivated the judges, besting 126 other hopefuls and bagging the most elusive beauty pageant title for Filipinos. Amidst sparks of protests from conservative Muslims, Miss World organizers were relieved that the finals night passed off smoothly after thousands of hardliners denounced the competition as a “whore contest.” In addressing the issue, the swimsuit competition, which normally is one of the main selling points in every beauty contest, was scratched and replaced with a beach fashion category wherein contestants wore tank tops and long sarongs in lieu of two-piece bikinis. For true to the heart of the Miss World contest is the ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ charitable motto which supports peace and humanitarian activities for marginalized individuals around the world. With grace, eloquence and a radiant beauty inside-out, Megan Young is the kind of ‘Wonder Woman’ every philanthropic organization dreams about having on board, one who could raise a million dollars to make a real and lasting contribution to the sick, the disaster-prone communities and the most vulnerable people in society. I remotely watched the new beauty queen from my youtube screen and my heartbeat grew faster than I have ever imagined. I was most proud to know that a fellow Filipino owned the stage and embarked on a remarkable journey to social responsibility.
Comedy is an interesting audio-visual art because oftentimes the punch lines are delivered with the most delicate characters having quick wit on the subject matter and with funny faces that ridicule themselves in front of a live audience. Atlanta-based Sketchworks “Riddle Me This” is all about that and more, a farce which puts everyone before the mirror to see if their core values reflect a real hero who is prepared to pounce on the next big enemy. It brings to mind that people are in constant search of everyday super heroes, regular Joes and Janes, who are as normal and as flawed as everybody else. What is really funny (LOL) about the show was that it poked fun on several sketches of parodies from all walks of life – from comic book heroes and villains, popular television shows, to your next-door gossipy neighbors engaged in racial slurs and a slew of other unconscious ordinary behaviors. The comedy drove its message home —to stimulate the minds of the audience, to challenge traditional beliefs and to find humor in people’s imperfections. With a world this twisted, it needs comedic heroes more than ever.