Editor’s Thoughts: Just last week, we had the pleasure and privilege of having a sit-down session with a talented, budding young writer at GenYes, Dashran. It was a good, productive session of sharing and we discussed various topics from the work Global Peace does, feminism and some local happenings. All in all, it was a great session and you can see the results of it here!
Your Dreams are a Part of our Dreams: A Chat with Global Peace Foundation Malaysia.
In conjunction with Global Peace Foundation Malaysia’s I Have A Dream campaign, Gen Yes decided to catch up with two Changemakers and what they’re doing for Malaysia. This live interview was conducted on the 29th of October, together with Changemakers’ communications manager Brandon and intern YinYee, covering issues like the recent I Want to Touch a Dog campaign and Feminism.
The following is the interview, as categorised by topic of discussion.
What exactly is a Changemaker and what does being one mean to you?
YinYee: Before my internship started, I actually went for the Global Peace Volunteers Camp. This camp is more or less like a boot camp where they teach you how to be the change, what it means to be a change and how to become a Changemaker. The entire premise of being a Changemaker revolves around leadership skills. You see many great leaders these days like Obama. However, at camp, they teach you leadership is not just about the kind of power you have but what you have as your values. So, if you want to be a Changemaker, you can’t just be someone who says, “I don’t like what’s happening, I want to change it, but you need to have the principles to follow up with whatever you’re saying.”
Brandon: Global Peace Foundation believes that the future lies in the hands of the upcoming generation. There is a need to have a healthy stream of leaders with moral integrity, competency and creativity into the industry be it corporate, politics or the social sector. The Global Peace Volunteers (GPV) was founded in Indonesia in 2020 because we needed to attract youth in conjunction with Global Peace Foundation. We have 1000 over members in Indonesia. In Malaysia, we’re just starting. End of November, we’re having our 5th camp. Which is the last batch of volunteers, who will serve as a pipeline to our programmes for the future.
So, being a Changemaker is about having two sides. Character and creativity. Character comes in integrity, your leadership skills and team work. Understanding how you yourself correlate to the world. If you are in the position of leadership, you have power. Power capacity equals your power to serve, not your power to rule. The creativity part, is basically how you tackle problems in the 21st century world. How do you leave everlasting impact? How do you creatively solve problems? Some problems may seem, really huge. For example, homelessness. People want to solve homelessness. That approach is wrong. You cannot solve social problems. You cannot eradicate social problems. You can improve the situation. That’s just how economy is formed. There will always be people at the poor end and people at the rich end.
So, it’s how do we pull a balance and provide support. And Changemaker is about bringing peace and peace is not just about preventing war but to give access to information, resources, knowledge to adequate people. Changemaker shouldn’t come from peer pressure, it shouldn’t come from money. It should come from your heart.
So before we start discuss the I Have a Dream Campaign, let’s touch on a few local and global issues. Let’s begin with feminism. There have been so many feminism speeches in the past, what makes Emma Watson’s speech special? How and why did it go viral?
YinYee: Number one, it’s because she’s Emma Watson. She already popular, so her fans made it go viral. Secondly, it’s because of the way she approaches it. Feminism has been around for years, but throughout the years, the meaning of feminism has become so watered down that people think it’s about man hating. A lot of feminist overseas have bought into this false idea. So I guess the reason why people relate to the Emma Watson speech, especially those that do fight for feminism is because she’s finally clarifying what it means to be a feminist. It’s not about man hating and also takes into consideration that men need feminism too. The concept isn’t secluded thus people feel included. There is a lot of backlash, it’s bound to happen. However, the news is showing. 15 year old boys, 20 year old men, talking about feminism. People are finally getting the true meaning of feminism.
Brandon: When we talk about delivering a message, Emma Watson has all the criteria. Relevance, intrusiveness, concise plus popularity. The perfect combination. And you know that Emma Watson itself is an intellectual. We all watched he grow up and we all know how much effort she puts in her life. She doesn’t do it easy just because she’s a celebrity. She took the conventional road. Going to University and studying the hard way just like everyone else. That is where she gained a lot of respect from people. It’s not just because she’s a celebrity. I’ve watched the video three times and you can see it in her eyes the conviction and passion. She wants change for the world. Not just for women but for humanity.
A lot of women (and men too) suffer from anorexia and bulimia. And they say it’s because of society’s pressure. Society’s pressure for them to be absolutely skinny, comparing them to models. Let’s look at it in a different perspective though. A Victoria Secret’s model like Miranda Kerr eats healthy meals and exercises tirelessly. She doesn’t starve herself nor does she purposely induce vomiting. Maybe that’s what society wants. So is it even fair to blame society?
YinYee: I don’t think it’s a matter of whether it’s fair or not. We’ve met Miss Universe Malaysia and she has told us about her workout and dietary regimes. However, it’s all about how it’s portrayed. In a lot of movies that has to do with supermodels, it is portrayed that said models only got that thin because they starve themselves and because they induce vomiting and that’s the kind of idea that many girls have. Also, because there is so much of pressure for people to look good, that if they don’t get the results fast enough, they try to find the shortest way possible. It’s a very human thing to do, if you’re not getting the results fast enough and want it immediately, you’ll find the shortest way possible. A lot of girls try certain things they see online like “one month sit up challenge” but a month later, there is not much of a change. So what do they do when they’re unsatisfied with the results? They seek other measures such as inducing vomiting and taking pills to lose weight.
Brandon: I’ll come from another angle. I can’t possibly speak for women. However, I think it is personal upbringing. Your confidence and your love for yourself is very important because we’re brought up in a society where peer pressure is really high and media pressure is really high. It’s natural because humans live in clusters. What the society and media can do is, to try tell people that healthy women are sexier than skinny women. Because skinny doesn’t mean healthy. By health I mean your heart rate, your cholesterol and whatnot. Genetics play a role too. People need to embrace and love themselves. It’s one of the things that is seriously lacking in our society, which is why Global Peace exists.
YinYee: A lot of media tells you that a certain body type are sexy and they shame fat people. Then you have this group that are all about body love and they shame skinny people. Both are at the wrong ends. I think it’s exactly like what Brandon says. It’s about loving yourself for who you are.
Brandon: It’s the way our culture functions. People need to shame others to feel good, this is the current society model. If I’m good on my own, great. Why do I need to say, you suck hence I’m good? Education, family, workplace are all supposed to be tied together but at this moment, there is no correlation. Centuries ago, men are the one that used to wear heels, men are the one that wear fancy clothes. Looks how things are shaped now. Take a closer look and you’ll see how the fashion and aesthetic industry is built on women’s guilt and shame. This is how cultures have been shaped and it’s really sad to see that.
All very fair points. However, if you notice, there are many women and men out there that are using society’s support as an excuse. For example, an extremely fat person chooses not to exercise because people have been saying that you should love and embrace your body. What do you have to say to these people?
YinYee: It’s very human for people to hear what they want to hear and then delete everything else. The message most people give is, “It is okay if you’re whatever body type as long as you’re healthy.” Most people ignore that last part though. These messages aren’t about criticising who you are as a person, but it’s about worry for you as a person. It’s definitely not good for you if you’re too fat as you might get high blood pressure and heart attack. If you’re too skinny, your bones might break easily and you’ll also be susceptible to the weather.
Brandon: The society builds extremist and extremists have that criteria of selectively choosing what they want to hear. It’s so much more on moderation which is what lacking in society. Especially the younger people who are going through so much peer pressure.
Moving on to a current issue, I want to touch a dog campaign. The organiser obviously did not have anything against the Muslim religion nor did he want to stir any problems. All he wanted was for society to embrace dogs. In return, he got a huge amount of backlash. So, what do you think about the backlash that he’s getting?
YinYee: When you come up with something that is considered radical in our society, it’s normal to get backlash, especially when someone who is trying to create big waves of change. That’s just how change starts. You start questioning people, you make that big wave of change and when the backlash comes, you know that your change is starting to happen. It may not be the way you want it to be but people are becoming more aware.
There is this term: no PR is bad PR. This kind of backlash is actually bringing a lot of awareness to whatever that is happening. It teaches us to look beyond what we already know.
Brandon:Every time we introduce something new, people will go insane. Let’s use fashion as an example. When Coco Chanel took off her corset and wore men’s clothes, the whole world went crazy. In the 80s when gay culture was brought up, they immediately associated it with aids and again, everyone went nuts. Humans like excitement, gossip and talking. Backlash is merely a form of social change.
I HAVE A DREAM CAMPAIGN
Let’s move on to the I Have A Dream Campaign. What exactly is this campaign all about?
YinYee: The entire point of this campaign is for people, youth especially to share their dream. Because especially in the Asian culture, youth are told to sit down, shut up and listen to your elders because they have more experience. However, in our current society, you can see that young people have innovative ideas on how to make change happen, but they’re afraid to speak up because they’re worried people will shame them for it or just not even listen. So the whole I Have A Dream Campaign is about giving you that platform to share what your greatest dream is with the world and help you find likeminded people.
Brandon: I would come from a different perception. Humanity is united over a course and the course needs to be big enough to encompass everyone. What else is a bigger dream than world peace? What else is a bigger dream than being one human family? We want to let people know that your dream is a part of our dream, your dream is part of our journey. So I have a Dream is going to be an entry point for University students to talk about their dreams and our dreams on being one human family. Also, to embrace diversity. A lot of our work is to help solve identity based conflicts. It shouldn’t be I’m brought up to be Chinese so I have to behave like a Chinese. No, that’s not the way. The right way is, I’m brought up to be a human being and I should function to be a human being. I have a Dream is a platform to share dreams and to release certain stigmas and shackles. We want people to voice.
Alright, this has been great thus far. One last question before we’re done. In regards to the I Have a Dream campaign, what is your dream?
YinYee: I have been through a lot of struggle throughout my life. Same thing applies to my friends as well. Wherever you go, people always tell you how unhappy they are with life. So, my greatest dream is for people to achieve that personal happiness. That personal peace with yourself. So, no matter what anyone tells you, you know you’re an amazing person.
Brandon: From a humanity standpoint, I wish we are a progressive society who respect each other genuinely and would work together to defend humanity. From a nature’s standpoint, humans are pests, humans destroy the world so humans are not worthy to stay in the world. Sir Ken Robinson said, if you take insects out of the world, in 50 years, everything will die. If you take humans out of the world, in 50 years, everything will flourish. It’s true that we give so many footprints and negative impacts on the world that we should do some good.
The interview officially ended there with an exchange of pleasantries.
All photos included were taken from their official Facebook page.