One of the most exciting things about living in Geneva are the people. Some of them are filthy rich, with awful taste. But others are mostly young, idealistic and smart. It’s the second group that are interesting, because they have come here to change the world.
When I was in Dubai for a week back in 2004 I spent some time in an office. The manager would take me aside for a chat about 4-5 times a day, for the benefit of my ‘education’. His main theme was that everyone in Dubai had come to better themselves. He wanted a nice car and a swimming pool and had come to Dubai for no other reason than. I hated Dubai, which I found to be full of selfish expats and poor immigrants working in conditions that basically constitute bonded labour. I hated it for this, and the fact that nobody seemed to have any power to improve things. Or even to care.
Here in Geneva, things are different. Not everybody is here for the exclusive betterment of their bank balance. All of the UN interns are unpaid (I think?) – certainly in their ranks they have members of the trust fund brigade, for whom it forms a convenient stop on their european tour. There are doubtless well connected (yet entirely vacuous) individuals who have presumably arrived here through mis-placed patronage or nepotism, which I guess you would call ‘society’ in the now slightly antique usage of the word. I’m sure some of them are flotsam that just wash up on the lakeshore and get stuck.
I’m not interested in any of those people. What interests me are the ones who want to change the world for the better. Maybe they’ve come all the way here to find only a stack of documents to file and photocopy at some UN agency that does excellent work in far away places. Perhaps they will actually get a taste of doing something ‘useful’ for wider humanity. Best of all, inside every one of them is a dream! It’s like the dream of our now dead heros, of Kennedy, of Martin Luther King, perhaps today the dream is most eloquently expressed by Aaron Sorkin.
This dream isn’t necessarily a daily reality. For some it will never come true, filing and photocopying will get in the way forever – but that isn’t the important thing. Probably only a few will have the good fortune to fully realise their aspirations, sadly not everyone is able to live their dreams. The important thing is that these dream are the embodiment of a code of values, an aspirational vision for all. To me this dream it is the antidote to all that is wrong with our current society. It is the single most important thing in the world, because it is our blueprint for a better future for everyone.
Generally, to succeed in life, you must have not only a dream, but also drive, dedication and above all patience to follow it through. This isn’t the kind of dream that will or can ever be fully realised or completed. This dream is the promise of a generation. A promise to ourselves, and to future generations. For me it is a fire that burns, inside me and like a thousand tiny candles in the hearts of each of these young idealists.
The best way that I have yet found to sum up my dream is that future generations should have all the opportunities that we enjoyed and more. We are here to expand the shared horizons of humanity, one day and one person at a time. Here I’ve found people who share this view, and that’s just one of the many reasons why I like Geneva a lot.