To all my Maldivian friends

To all my Maldivian friends,

Hi, I welcome you to my long post. I believe every Maldivian at one point in their lives posts a long, personal and introspective post. This is my turn, except with less introspection.

I didn’t like growing up in the Maldives, it saddens me to know that I was not alone in this – many of my friends are not fond of the country either. I know many of us that managed to leave the country and many of us stayed abroad ever since. There are several reasons I didn’t like home; I felt alienated, oppressed and suffocated. Perhaps I truly did not understand that we are still recovering and healing from a 30 year dictatorship; such a regime no doubt casts an immense influence on lives. I forgot that we as a nation, are still healing.

But this is not a post about growing up. This is not a post about the narrow roads of Male’, nor the charm of the orange street lights at night. This is not a post about the fun we all had on the beach with our friends. This is not a post about a difficult yet nostalgic time in our lives; one filled with sunshine (quite literally) crystal clear waters, the occasional stabbings and regime changes.

This is a post about climate change. Humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels are slowly suffocating us. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned us that we have 12 years to limit climate change. We must drastically reduce our fossil fuels emissions. We must take a step back from our hyper-consumerist mass-produced capitalist society. We must slow down. We must allocate our resources most effectively in the fight against climate change through ways but not limited to: investing in renewable energy, implementation of current solutions, and awareness on the age of Anthropocene. Politicians, philosophers, engineers, scientists and the brightest minds alive must focus on creating a new future; a future in which we can peacefully co-exist with the natural world.

In the past few weeks, a group called Extinction Rebellion has caused quite the commotion in Europe, mainly in London. I thought to myself ‘Oh no, it’s a revival of the hippies!’. But no, Extinction Rebellion’s ‘rebels’ consist of students, postmen, lawyers, scientists, authors; the similarity we all share is that our concern for the health of the natural world. I’ve seen many of my friends arrested in this movement – it’s bizarre to see your own friends end up on BBC.

Extinction Rebellion is fighting against climate change. Or to put it more explicitly, XR wants the world to wake up to the rape and the cruel destruction of the natural world around us. Extinction Rebellion and movements such as ‘School Strike for Climate’ ignited by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, are our last desperate attempts to hit the brakes until we hit the point of no-return.

Many of my friends abroad often ask me the question ‘Hey so, is your country sinking?’, to which I always reply with a casual nod and ‘I guess it is, gee that’s a bummer’. This is where we Maldivians come in. Many of us left and never returned to the country. In this we have forgot that we will be one of the first people to face the gravest consequences of climate change for we are at the mercy of our closest ally and friend, the ocean. And so why have we remained quiet? Are we distracted by the game of politics? Are we just so disillusioned with our identity that we refuse to fight? Why are we letting our businessmen and politicians play their little game while we face extinction?

My best memories are the ones in which I spent countless hours at the beach; with my feet in the sand and without a care in the world. We need to reconnect with the natural world; no Maldivian should spend their lives in little blocks in a concrete jungle; we are blessed with endless sea. Businessmen and corporations must not take the sea and the natural beauty of our country from us – the economic system demands that we commodify and sell earth’s beauties. We must not sell our pristine beaches to the highest bidder; we must reconnect with it instead.

However, the Maldives is not to blame for the majority of emissions in the world; we should not be held responsible and face the consequences of the Western world and China’s emissions. What we have however, is a short-temper and loud voices. We must yell at the world shouting that, no longer are we going to stay idle. We must join forces with other island nations such as Tuvalu, Kiribati etc for we all face the same future. It is time that Maldivians play a role in creating the future; one in which we choose green over greed.

I grew up in an apartment in Male’, distracted by the instant gratification and stimuli of the technology around me. I regret that I’ve spent more time in-front of a screen than the sea. Yet I am an islander. It matters very little where I live; I am an islander.

In playing the game of life, we should not forget what we are blessed with. Minuscule on the map, exists a stretch of a thousand islands so magnificent, even the angels stopped to watch as god sculpted it. There exists kingdoms of intricate leaving breathing corals; so colourful and patterned that words can only sink in their presence. We call this land home. Let’s save her.