The first months of this new decade have been a whirlwind of catastrophic events. A series of massive bushfires ravaged several regions of Australia before torrential rains swept through and reduced their severity. The assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani sparked short-lived tensions and fears over potentially destructive retaliation between the US and Iraq. And now, the coronavirus pandemic is spurred by a steep rise in cases, urging public leaders to exercise stringent containment measures. Crises like these place authorities under heavy scrutiny as they respond, adapt, and govern their constituents. More importantly, though, they should encourage us to take a step back and reflect on how far our society has come.
Mankind has encountered far more disastrous events in the past, and our present society is in a better position now to overcome challenges than ever before. But it seems that we have not maximized the overwhelming capacities of our manpower. Many people still live below the poverty threshold; discrimination is still rampant towards minority groups; millions of refugees displaced from their homelands are yet to find a permanent residence. These people have the same potential for achievement as anyone in a relatively developed nation, yet their circumstances hinder them from reaching this potential and contributing well to society. They are the limited sectors of our community, our untapped resources who could soon maneuver further advancements in the future if only they are given the opportunity. We owe it to future generations to not squander this huge pool of talent by helping to improve the quality of life of those in need.
Numerous examples throughout history have, in fact, demonstrated the power that minorities and marginalized groups hold in times of difficulty. When America deployed their troops to battle during the Second World War, the huge gaps left in the labor force were filled by women, who had until then been confined to the home. Black American soldiers had at that time also been deemed unfit to be drafted for overseas combat forces, but the Tuskegee Airmen, primarily composed of African-American and Caribbean military pilots, provided excellent protection to bomber squadrons during the war, proving their capabilities. Even in the past few years, it has been developing countries who generously host more fleeing refugees than developed countries, according to a report of the UNHCR.
As things currently stand, however, we still have a long way to go. But there are already global initiatives that could pioneer greater progress for the marginalized, the discriminated, and the underprivileged. In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all member states of the United Nations General Assembly. The agenda lists a total of 17 goals that are all targeted towards overall societal growth, but some goals specifically address the issues currently faced by minorities. These include poverty, decent work and economic growth, and promoting gender equality.
Communities are only as strong as their weakest members. Any of their talents could be the game-changer, the perfect minds to solving the unsolved or to discovering the undiscovered. As we link our hands in solidarity, let us not exclude these minorities. We must ensure that every progress made is universally felt, with nobody left behind.