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Make ‘kindness’ our word for 2020

“Woke” was the Top Trending Word for 2019, reported the Global Language Monitor (GLM) just a few months before the last quarter of the year concluded. Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM, explains the word: “In Progressive lingo, ‘woke’ describes an epiphany-like experience, where one is awakened to the call of social justice — and the failures of the past.” More often, it takes a certain kind of jolt to be woke. Such a shove happened when teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg gave her now famous speech before United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York City. To be a told by a child “How dare you!” for not doing enough to preserve the earth, for passing on the burden of the future to the youth, struck a raw nerve.

There is no please in her plea. How can one sound polite when one talks about a matter of urgency that’s been enabled by big business interests and lukewarm government regulations? “I want a concrete plan, not just nice words,” she said.

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Not woke yet? Try soaking up this study by the Global Peace Index 2019: The Philippines is the most susceptible country to hazards brought about by climate change. The report reveals that 47 percent of the country’s population is situated in areas highly exposed to climate hazards like floods, tropical cyclones, earthquakes, drought and tsunami.

The future isn’t looking too bright, but along with this thought comes courage. Exactly what young Greta had. She brought her fears to the next level by taking the courage to speak out and by organizing strikes with fellow schoolchildren that eventually led to the organization of coordinated school strikes around the planet.

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Our Filipino youth are also taking part in this global movement through school strikes demanding that government get its act together in mitigating climate change. Filipino students have been making concrete solutions to the crisis. Amin Hataman, a 15-year-old student in 2015, for instance, bagged a bronze medal in an international contest for inventing biodegradable plastic bags made from nata de coco.

Last Jan. 6, the 1st Lockton Philippines Legacy Awards honored college students with sustainable action research studies on managing environmental risks. The grand prize winners, IT students from the University of Southern Philippines Foundation, proposed installing smart solid waste containers to reduce the effect of solid waste in Cebu City. Besides awarding students, Lockton Philippines will also tap corporations that are willing to fund the research proposals for implementation.

There is a war threatening to escalate. As we have already witnessed, war brings nothing but destruction and deaths of human lives and the environment.

We may look puny before world leaders and gargantuan organizations, but we can be brave. Like Greta and our Filipino youth who are aiming for clear solutions to the climate crisis. We can start by embracing our smallness and by practicing kindness as mothers, daughters, sisters, coworkers, employers, neighbors and as inhabitants of this planet.

When things become senseless as in conflict, war and hatred, kindness becomes a powerful act of defiance.

Kindness can never be lame, because it emboldens people to be compassionate about the plight of others and our surroundings. Small acts of kindness for the environment such as recycling plastic packaging at home, raising an edible backyard garden and carpooling make an impact when they become part of our collective practice.

Lately, society is praising kindness to one’s self; to practice self-care, self-love. We can also become kind as a nation if we start rising above our cynicism, resentment and fatigue for mass actions by making our voices heard through organized efforts to get conversations going on climate change, volunteering in cleanups and signing proenvironment petitions.

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Marcus Aurelius said, “Kindness is unconquerable.”

To include others in our quest for transformation for a healing nation and earth requires kindness and tolerance to educate the ignorant. As we make gratitude our currency, let us make kindness our driving force. By all means, make kindness your top hashtag and make it really, really matter in real time.

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Francine M. Marquez is the cofounder of OutFit Philippines, a young firm advocating outdoor fitness and love for the environment. She is also a writer, editor, digital media consultant and aspiring athlete.

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TAGS: Commentary, Francine M. Marquez, kindness
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