Superman’s Greatest Shield

The World Youth Alliance defends the dignity of the person in many aspects. Read about how one of our interns thinks the youth can be involved in this and more.


Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at

Growing up the eldest child, I can say I’ve been put into positions somehow by default. I’ve been default babysitter to younger siblings and cousins, “trophy boy” to my loving parents, and even default arbiter during random debates between my friends. Constant volunteerism and eagerness are all part of this superman complex that I’ve developed since a young age. Now that my sister’s grown up and learning to become her own superwoman, it’s as if I’ve retired from my superman days. Until I attended last week’s Youth for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rally. Lo and behold, I didn’t know the world wants me to be a superhero, too.

The Sustainable Development Goals

Take away the image of the cheap superman costume, Clark Kent glasses and superhero attitude, my normal self is now challenged by realities much scarier than kryptonite.

Last September 25, the 193 member countries of the United Nations adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), a systematic roadmap to conquer the world’s greatest problems over the course of 15 years. These goals include:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

A few days prior to the Summit, Columbia University hosted Youth for SGDs, a youth rally that gathered over a thousand young people to help achieve the SGDs. At the end of the conference they were given the responsibility of working towards attaining these SGDs for the next 15 years, starting immediately. How does the world expect me to save it from these issues? How does a young person like me become the superman the world truly needs?

The Power of Ideas

Just like the best superheroes, the first step towards overcoming a struggle is to get to the bottom of things. But in reality, this may not be the easiest feat. How does one quantify the existence of poverty? How does one get to the root of civil wars and unrest in several parts of the world? Truly, there are many contingent factors to these events. But at the very core of these actions are ‘ideas’ that support and inform behavior in society. And in this modern age, it is important to realize that ideas spread like wildfire.

Throughout history, we have seen a number of ways with which people in power use various propaganda to distract people from what is true. From inhumane policies to devastating forms of propaganda art, these are what have caused lives of many to be taken for granted. Unfortunately, this is the reality we live in now.

As a member of the World Youth Alliance, the idea of human dignity has provided me with my greatest shield as a revitalized superman. This powerful idea has given me the strength and confidence to speak and act truthfully about the human person. Most importantly, it was this idea that has instilled in me the importance of being critical towards making sure ideas and global processes meet the needs of the human person.

When I was younger, I accepted things face value. I thought highly of and sought to involve myself in missions that promise a ‘better future’. But when the means to achieve that vision compromises the needs of the person with intrinsic worth and value? It has led me to ask: What then are we fighting for?

As a young person, it is best that I am able to do my part in safeguarding human dignity in the process of achieving a better world.

The SDGs are powerful and relevant enough to influence major policies over the next 15 years. As a young person, it is best that I am able to do my part in safeguarding human dignity in the process of achieving a better world. Something like the SDGs to guide us towards that cannot simply be ignored and fully accepted at face value. What can young people do to overcome these?

Recognize one’s dignity

At the core of the World Youth Alliance’s work is the concept of Human Dignity. When a society is aware of this and manifests in the actions of their people, huge changes can occur socially, politically and economically. This idea can then encourage young people to do the next steps:

Be analytical

Once young people are aware of their dignity and the dignity of those around them, they are able to identify if certain actions work towards or against it. This extends from actions undertaken in everyday life to over-arching policies of government authorities.

Be proactive

Young people need to make use of their resources to defend human dignity against ideas that threaten it. It doesn’t always have to be a grand proclamation, but young people should make every opportunity count.

Before we take a leap into the next 15 years, young people should first work towards making sure that policies and ideas respect the people they aim to serve. Personally, the idea of human dignity has served as my greatest shield against many distorted ideas that have stood in the way. This has made me be the active youth I yearn for, and will continue to empower me to be the superman the world needs.


This article was written by Miko Superable. He is an Intern for the World Youth Alliance Headquarters in New York and a member of WYA Asia Pacific. 

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