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To quote the late Martin Luther King Jr.

, / “Your life ends the moment you start being


silent / about things that matter.” That line / shaped the idea that our voices, // or the lack thereof,
/ can be instrument that molds our lives and of the people around us. But what happens when
we, // the youth, / kept our silence, // if we failed to speak up about the things that matter:
important things like the deadly stigma that feeds around people suffering from social, physical,
and psychological health issues, // the victims of HIV/AIDS / and Mental Health Conditions.

Before I present the acts that we can do to possibly alleviate the lives of these people, /
let me first discuss about one of the major reasons why this stigma / grew. In a society that
claims to develop a deeper sense of sensitivity, the youth slowly grew more and more apathetic.

What is apathy?

Apathy, / in its literal meaning, / is the feeling of not having much emotion or interest. In
other words, the feeling of “I don't care”. According to the Washington Post, / the youth / is
slowly turning away / from current issues that they think doesn't interest them or that benefits
them the least. This means that, / the growing number of victims of HIV/AIDS and people
suffering from mental health conditions like depression and anxiety disorder among others,
might sound like it's something that today's youth would take notice of because, / to quote Philip
Perry, // “Millennials, / our generation, / are at a higher risk of suffering from it.” But the sad
reality is that / people only care about themselves. Worst, / people even lost sympathy towards
other people suffering from the same problems as them. This became a sadder form of apathy
because it shows disregard to people who suffers from the same problem as they are; from
people whom one should feel the sense of understanding with.

Let me tell you the story of a man / who fell victim to this depressing paradigm. John, /
23, / was a brave young man who fell victim to clinical depression when he caught AIDS after
having unprotected sex. He was diagnosed with the condition for almost a year before he started
seeking support. Hoping for the best, / thinking he would find people who would understand
him, / he decided to join a group therapy. But one sad night, / his parents were devastated when
they saw his body hanging from the ceiling. // Lifeless, // a note was found in his hand. / It
stated:/

“I have had it. I thought / they cared. I thought / they understood.” //

It turned out / that the members of his support group only cared about their individual
intentions, / showing little to no sympathy to each other. This was apparently the reason the
young boy was pushed to the edge.

Sadly, / this is not an isolated case because, according to CNN Philippines, / 800 000
people die to suicide every year and more than 60% of that is because of severe depression / and
a substantial number of that value is directly related to the transmission of HIV.
Now, what can we possibly do to at least minimize the sufferings of these people? How
can we destroy this form of apathy? The solution/ is pretty obvious, / two things actually, //
both of these can be directly related to each other: / to care / and to speak up. This might sound
idealistic / but honestly, // if the world started to care, / to give the right amount of care,
everything / would be a lot easier than it is today.

That is why, altruism, / cooperation, / and caring for the vulnerable is what made our
species unique. It is empathy and cooperation, / not self-interest and competition / that drove our
physiological, cognitive, / linguistic, / cultural, / social, / and technological evolution. All these
advancements made because / we cared. And, / since it is us, / the youth / that would inherit the
earth, it is our primary responsibility / to care for everyone that inhabits it. When people started
caring / then slowly everyone starts to talk about the issues that matter. It's when people / start to
speak up. As what I have said in my opening statement, / our voices can be instruments used to
shape the lives of people. According to Jim Rohn, / our words can affect the entire being of
other people. It can influence other’s actions, / reactions / and decisions. When we start caring
and speaking up, // we can create a counter stigma, that instead of nourishing apathy, focuses on
building new grounds in the spirit of altruism and sympathy.

Now, what is the purpose of the youth if not to be agents of change? That is why / I
stand here in front of all of you, // in this prestigious event / that showcases the eloquence of the
youth, / to encourage every youth in the room to serve that purpose. I encourage everyone to
voice out! Take notice, / care / and speak up! Because at the end of the day, // a little amount
of caring / never hurts anyone. /