I was in New York when over 400,000 people marched on the streets of New York to raise the awareness of issues related to climate change and influence the UN Summit delegates to take action. One of the celebrities who participated in the march was Leonardo DiCaprio. I did not know that he was an environmentalist but I saw the video of his speech at the UN Summit. His speech was short but powerful and significantly influenced my thinking.
Leonardo addressed the delegates at the UN Summit , which was made up of industrialists and political leaders. He did not make himself out to be a subject matter expert on climate change, but showed that he knew enough to urge “decisive and legislative action” to curb carbon emissions. He said something that I will never forget, “I pretend for a living, you do not”, implying that there were many pretenders who were eloquent in support but took no or little action. He also indicated that the audience was empowered to take action and he asked them to act, not to pretend. His said that it takes more than “changing a light bulb and driving hybrid cars” to make a significant difference and the audience he was addressing were people who could enact legislation to make a huge difference.
I was moved by his short speech and felt that I am also a pretender. Since I became aware of climate change related issues in school, I have been contributing in a small way – recycling, saving electricity etc. But I realized that if we need to contribute in a meaningful way, we cannot afford to be pretenders. We need to be active campaigners and champions for change.