Clue: the house is the planet. The fire, well, it’s both figuratively and literally what’s happening to the earth and species, including us, humans. But Global Citizen Festival took the heart of New York City, its breathing lungs, Central Park, and managed to make it beat again.
Instead of sounding an alarm and emitting a cry of despair, the group of advocates, leaders, and activists sent forth a pulse of bravery, cheers, and an anthem of enthusiasm. When facing a crisis, we often turn to despair, tears, panic and do not automatically turn the music on and listen to “Jenny from The block.” Yet, maybe we should. While addressing all the major crises in the world, Global Citizen gave me all these beautiful lessons:
1. We all need help:
It takes a 24-hour concert around the world, hundreds of thousands of spectators, and hundreds of brands to help face global challenges, and it would undoubtedly take more than one person alone to confront his/her own struggles and challenges. Europe alone cannot help fighting climate change, Africa alone cannot end famine, and even Prince Harry, a Royalty, cannot defeat Covid or advance Mental health by himself. Next time you find yourself right in the middle of a crisis, call for help. There’s nothing wrong with that.
2. Role models, heroes:
The planet and humanity have always had their advocates; their heroes sometimes gone too soon, but that we know, that just like batman, are still looking up for us from above. Either be it Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury or John Lennon, Global Citizen Festival didn’t miss to galvanize and boost the citizens in the park by paying tribute to humanity anthems like “We are the world” and “Imagine.” The festival never misses setting the projector on these extraordinary people, including modern-day heroes like Greta Thunberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince Harry, or Chris Martin. The reason why we love to see heroes, it’s not only because, as in the books, good wins and the bad is vanquished but because no matter how bad the situation can be, no matter how challenging a problem can be, heroes stand up for their values and what they believe is right. Whether it sounds like a utopia or a fantasy, these people do their best, dare to face the difficulty, and don’t run from duties. And even if often in real-life heroes don’t finish their quest, they often leave a legacy that transcends a generation. True heroes that we love remind us that there is a struggle but that we can come out of it, have hope, triumph, and be bold enough to want to face hardship. I remember a time where there were shirts with a print “What would Beyonce do?”. That’s the idea. Anytime when everything seems impossible, too hard, too far, besides calling for help and for an extra hand, look for role models, quotes, people who have been there, people who sang about, spoke about it, or started the path. But also, why not see it as an opportunity to be a Micheal Jackson or a Bono? Maybe it’s the opportunity to keep going and overcome the struggle to be someone else’s role model.
As I entered the venue, I was comforted by the large stage with the circle screen at its center like an eye on the world. It was my second time attending the festival, and I was delighted to celebrate again after the interruption of 2020. It’s not only that the event was maintained even after all this rough year, but it strengthened, even more, its purpose and its core mission as, more than ever, every single human on the planet faced a global threat. It could be enough of a lesson on resiliency to take on adversity and take it as one more reason to keep the fight but what’s to take even more about this festival is that commitment, engagement, and consistency are the right road to sustainable solutions. While some concerts will be held for one time or maybe three, the Global Citizen festival made it to its seventh. And maybe we should remind ourselves that some problems cannot be solved or fixed with miracles. Commitment, habits, discipline, and resiliency are necessary to reach our goals. Whether in the family or professional life, we have to be willing to take long roads even if that might not have the immediate outcome we hope for but that we have to start somewhere, keep trying, keep going, step by step, and each time going further.
4. Cheer up:
Yes, it’s hard to dance when the house is on fire. But panicking will never help. Sitting in a corner and crying, neither. But listening to JLo performing, no, stunning, shining, stealing the show, with Jenny from the block right in the center of NYC, makes you just know that you can get there. Such empowerment is also delivered by UN US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield sharing a story on how a refugee became a paralympic champion and her lesson on how little help can get you back up. And if it’s not enough, of course, the event didn’t go without commemorating the powerful words of Mandela “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” No matter what happens, the impossible doesn’t exist. We can all make any dream or fantasy a reality. Yes, we can end famine, and yes, you can become a star, an actor, a writer, a professional Olympic athlete, or create your start-up. And that’s the beauty of music. It’s easier to feel empowered and transported when singing mindlessly the lyrics of “Because I’m happy,” “Bling Bling, then I solve them, that’s the goddess in me” from Lizzo, or else. We all know how transported we can be by song lyrics, and maybe they even have an effect of affirmation, making us feel invincible, audacious, capable, and supported. So the next time you have to hit that deadline, you have to face financial struggle, make it through the end of the month or come out to the parents, just listen to Sia’s “Unstoppable” or “The Greatest” or maybe Freddy Mercury’s “Don’t stop me know” or any Good mood playlist on Spotify.
5. Surround yourself with more positive energy.
Yes, protests are good. But no one can hear someone mad, angry, furious, and yelling. While it’s hard for activists to feel left off when very few people seem concerned and don’t show up to an organized protest, chances are that if you call the same people for a celebration, they will be in. Well, it’s not that individuals are not concerned, but everyone, especially this year, could use some positivity, a good atmosphere, and maybe some joy. Can we be positive when something, if not everything, seems wrong? Well, yes. Just add optimism, and it becomes a small celebration: such as “so far we did this, and we want to go further, and we can do it.” Let’s be that idealistic person with optimism, positivity.