By Onassis Foundation USA
What you stand for matters to us. These times are rife with tension—we are confronted with a troubled global economy, refugee crisis, stressed environment, inexplicable violence, and gaps in understanding among people. Many seem overwhelmed by all of the troubling news, and understandably so. One response to that feeling is apathy, the belief that there is nothing one person can do to fix it. Another response is to stand for something and fight for it, maybe only in small ways. This much is known—taking a stand is a salve to feeling overwhelmed in the face of pressing problems. And that positive feeling grows and spreads and is shared and changes things.
Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan states perfectly that choice between apathy and action: “I don’t want to be thought of as the ‘girl who was shot by the Taliban’ but the ‘girl who fought for education.’ This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.” And look where her devotion to the cause of education has taken her! To name but one example, on her 18th birthday last summer, Malala opened a school in Lebanon for Syrian refugees girls 14 to 18 years old and funded by the non-profit Malala Fund. She is the youngest person ever to have won the Nobel Peace Prize and inspires students worldwide. Actually, she inspires everyone.
Though Malala is the most famous teenage activist today, she certainly doesn’t stand alone. Jack Andraka from Maryland, at the age of 14, figured out an inexpensive way to detect pancreatic cancer, which spreads rapidly and is rarely detected early. Three Irish teenaged girls, Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Thow, decided to help solve world hunger and discovered a way to increase cereal crop yields by 50 percent. In India, Neha Gupta founded Empower Orphans at the age of 9. Since then she has helped thousands of children gain access to clean water, libraries, computers, and healthcare. New Zealander Lydia Ko, at the age of 17, became the youngest golfer ranked number one in the world, breaking Tiger Woods’ record by four years.
We invite you to join the conversation. The #iSTANDfor campaign is a place to tell the world what you stand for—whoever you are and wherever you live. Following in the great classical Greek tradition of public dialogue, the Onassis Foundation USA encourages you to converse locally and globally, share your stories, connect with one another, and use this platform as a springboard for generating fresh ideas about what can be done to improve life on earth.