For a better world

Bridget Rudder, 22, London

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If you and a complete stranger were on a sinking ship and plunged into freezing water would you take their raft and drown them? Like that scene in the Titanic when that guy tries to drown Rose before Jack lands him one in the face. Could you look at that man, woman, maybe child, in their raw, teared up eyes and plunge their face into the icy water? Maybe you would, maybe that’s what it takes to survive, maybe that’s strength. But does survival guarantee freedom?

We’ve been sold the unsinkable ship of dreams yet our humanity is sinking. Our country is a world of icy water and cut throat choices. We are more reliant on charity than policy to survive and are all two pay packets away from being homeless and still, still we allow ourselves to be taught to not see other humans - other lives - ruled by people who believe the world turns on an axle of gold bars, who reminds us our self worth is measured by the amount of stuff we own, but worst of all teaching us that our survival is dependent on another humans suffering. We are expected to look into the eyes of our neighbour and sacrifice them to the ocean. None of us want to be sinking in ice water with no choice, so why accept life in an ice cold titanic world?

How long can we ignore this - living our lives of distraction?

How long can we be aboard a world that brings out the very worst in all humans, that forces us to be ruthless in the name of survival?

Are we free or are we sinking?

We are all born babies who from the very beginning of life rely on love to survive - hate doesn’t give us nourishment. Hate will never help anyone grow. Instead lets challenge bitterness with compassion and witness the good that exists in us all somewhere. Can you do this? Am I naive? Foolish? Even dangerous? If you think I am then to you I am sorry. I am sorry that you know the world to be such a lonely unforgiving place and I am ashamed that no one has ever proved you otherwise. I weep that you add to that kind of world, for what is life if you're surviving with no humanity? But to you I also say don’t let bitterness live in your guts instead let compassion thrive in your heart, drown any hatred with love, love we are all capable of showing and receiving, love in our actions, our voices, our votes. Until that’s what you contribute most to the world - love.

Empathy - to understand and share the feelings of another. I know this to be the very thing that saves us. That frees us of prejudice, frees us from sinking. So all of you today put yourselves on the line as the flawed, vulnerable and powerful people you are because with care drowning on this vessel isn’t an option. Lets create a world where we are richer in things worth more than wealth. A world where we all take responsibility for our global family, ensuring society meets the needs of the weakest member. Let us not wait for more people to lose their grace, lose their humanity, for you to have to sacrifice your own compassion and sink beneath the freezing water. Don’t board the unsinkable ship that pulls you down. Fight to preserve mercy not each others hostility. Let your armour be tested now, your ocean dried up today, and leave here striving hard to see the good people in terrible actions. Make a world where compassion and care don’t have to be choices. Where you can look that man, woman or child in their raw, teared up eyes and bare their struggle not assess their weakness. Your empathy can change the world. There is more strength in that, and that strength today is what will make us free.

Bridget is a member of our Young Leaders programme. The Almeida Young Leaders is a scheme giving young people with something vital to say, the tools and platform to do so. Each young leader has been mentored by a writer and director to develop their ideas, structuring a speech and skills in public speaking.