Five years ago, I stood outside the Sunset Lounge completely overwhelmed because I had just experienced my first political manoeuvre. I remember the then secretary general, coming up to me and saying, “there’s no point crying, pull it together; this is what t
he real world is like.” When I look back now, I feel embarrassed for not having understood the meaning behind his words. For not understanding the greater purpose of MUN. It wasn’t about the awards, the certificates or the gavels but about the skills it taught. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably as competitive as any of you. But I now realise that talking about MUN only in relation to awards trivialises and undermines its greater importance.
Just like you, I read articles about the Syrian refugee crises, see pictures and videos of innocent citizens being made victims of political battles. But that’s it, that’s where it ends. I talk about it for just a few minutes before moving on to discuss the futility of demonetisation. That’s where the problem lies. In today’s world, there are so many things to talk about. We forget that talking about all the issues for just a few seconds only ends in us solving none of them. I’m not suggesting that we go and join the peace corps because that would be utopian but we can do our part by fostering dialogue by talking about problems for more than a brief second. As teenagers that’s how we contribute to making a change. By being the force that compels people to utter, the truths that make them most uncomfortable. We make a change by stepping out of our comfort zones.
Don’t we all want to leave this world better than how we found it. Not by complaining about having to undo years of injustice but by having the courage to speak the truth, by not shying away from being a domino. For a line of dominoes to fall, one has to fall first, which then leaves the other choice-less to do the same.
Most of you probably associate the falling of dominoes with a negative set of events but I see it differently. I see it as a small change, a small initiative which has the capability of setting off a string of revolutionary events. Take the example of Rosa Parks, a woman of colour, whose willingness to become a controversial figure inspired the black community to boycott the Montgomery buses for over a year, the first major direct action campaign of the post-war civil rights movement.
We live in a society that counts on our silence, on its ability to keep us exactly where we are. They count on our fatal flaw of being “comfortable”. But in my limited years of experience if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it is that comfort is overrated. The only way to make a change is by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Being quiet is comfortable. Keeping things the way they’ve been is comfortable. And all comfort has done is maintain the status quo.
The day we reach our true potential, will be the day when we all realise that we’ve wasted too much time in our bubble of comfort and fake solace. The day we realise it is our job, our obligation, and our duty to speak truth to power, to be a domino.
MUN gives us that power, it gives us the opportunity to be that domino. One of the biggest discomforts we experience is the sense of being powerless. The feeling of being a spectator, of not being able to do something about the wrongs. Here, over the next three days, each one of you will assume a position of great political importance. You will get a taste of what it feels like to have real power; to be able to make a decision that could change lives. This does not mean that you will leave CMUN, capable of solving global crises but what you will take away is a realisation that sometimes the most uncomfortable truths, the harshest realities are the ones that really make a difference.
So, over the next three days every time you feel yourself hesitating to say something because it means that you have to step outside your comfort zone, remember that someday, outside this simulation, you could be in a similar reality. Not saying what needs to be said will be an injustice not only to yourself but also to everyone affected.
That’s what MUN did for me, it made me confront my discomforts. It taught me how to represent a country whose views I was starkly opposed to, it taught to me to say the things people didn’t want to hear. It gave me a taste of the phrase “great things don’t come easy.
Despite all this, I concede, I am scared of stating those harsh unpopular opinions. I may be aware of the need to speak the truth but I haven’t been able to muster the courage to actually do it myself. That changes now.
Model UN is something that I hold very dear, something that has changed me as a person but also something that has now become more of a pop culture and less of a learning experience. I see MUNs becoming more about presenting delegates with unrealistic crises provided we are able to ensure that they have fun. We spend more time worrying about what to wear to committees rather than what to say. Committees are drifting away from reality. I hear about “Game of Thrones” committees, “Harry Potter” simulations and even FIFA committees. That’s not Model UN!
I see before me a room full of experienced MUNers but I’m sure that if I ask how many of you have written a resolution that you think could actually get passed in a UN GA I won’t see a lot of hands go up. I for one haven’t been an author to or have seen a resolution of such sophistication.
It is with this realisation that this year, the CMUN secretariat has decided that we want to make a concerted effort to be true to MUN and hence all committees will have crises as realistic as possible along with heightened focus on solutions which aren’t just generic, but are practical and unique.
I hope you have an experience that changes the way you look at things. I look forward to seeing a productive and stimulating 3 days of debate.
With that I declare the 22nd session the CMUN 2018 open.
I request all the delegates to remain seated and silent while the
charge’D Affairs lead our chief guest out.