Have you heard of or seen the movie “The Island President”? I saw it on Wednesday with some other Colby students at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.
The film documents the efforts of Mohammad Nasheed, now the ex-president of the Maldives, in the year leading up to the Copenhagen Climate Change Council of 2009. The Maldives is a nation of 2,000 tiny islands in the Indian Ocean that has recently experienced a violent and oppressive dictatorship. Nasheed was able to peacefully gain presidency in 2008, and has since then been actively working to combat climate change. He was overthrown in February of this year, but is continuing to promote democracy, peace, and climate change activism in the Maldives.
Nasheed was almost certainly the most aggressive and active world leader in the fight against climate change. He proposed swift action, reduction of CO2 emissions for all countries, and had planned for the Maldives to be the first carbon-neutral nation in the world. Met at all sides by resistance from other countries, Nasheed continued to pressure them to take definitive climate change action.
Perhaps this is because his country has the most to lose. As glaciers melt and sea levels rise, the Maldives are being swallowed by the oceans. Throughout the film there were frequent shots of eroding coastline and aerial views of the low-lying islands that appeared to just barely peak above sea level. Members of Nasheed’s cabinet expressed their concern for losing “an entire culture” to the ocean.
After the movie the audience skyped with the director Jon Shenk. When asked about what hope Shenk saw in the situation, he replied with a quote from Nasheed: “I don’t hope. I work”.
Nasheed might have some of the biggest worries of any person on earth. His country is threatened by dictatorship and environmental catastrophe simultaneously, yet he has not let up in any of his efforts. His dedication and optimism are simply incredible.
Not hoping for something, but working staunchly towards it seems to me to be an admirable way to live. It probably seems like a pretty obvious concept – of course you have to work to accomplish things. But at the same time, it reminds me of our individual power and what can result from resolute dedication.
I’m going to do my best to live by Nasheed’s words, and I hope they mean something to you as well.
Here’s the link to the film’s website if you’re interested in learning more: http://theislandpresident.com/