This week on Small Talk, we sat down with boundary pusher and movement maker Colombe Cahen-Salvador, to chat about human rights, unity, and joining forces for something greater than ourselves.
Fight for Rights
Colombe Cahen-Salvador is a 27-year-old French activist who has worked in various human rights and humanitarian organizations such as Robert F. Kennedy human rights, the NCR, and OHCHR.
Most recently, Colombe is the co-founder of the global movement known as ‘NOW!’, a force pushing past differences and going beyond borders.
“Human rights is a pretty straightforward way of looking at the world.”
From a young age, Colombe has known her calling was human rights, and in knowing her calling, she picked up on the first ring.
“For some reason, I always wanted to get into human rights. So, I’m one of those lucky people who always knew what they wanted to do. I didn’t struggle through high school and so on, thinking, ‘what am I going to be?’ It was always very clear to me that I wanted to work for human rights because it was one of the simplest ways to implement change.”
Human rights is defined as a set of universal values, with a focus and intention to uphold them.
“I worked for years in human rights in various organizations, and then Brexit happened, and it really struck a chord.”
Being from France, Colombe heard talk of her country following in Brexit’s direction of isolationist practices. With an unsettling feeling, knowing that herself and her countries freedom was at risk, Colombe used her anger to fuel action.
“I was really, honestly quite upset about it. And my partner told me, ‘why don’t you stop complaining and do something about it.’ At the time, it really pissed me off, but then I realized he had a point.”
As mentioned in our interview with Andria Zafirakou, sometimes the best advice we receive from loved ones can be hard to hear. But when accepted, it can also be life-changing. Following this advice, Colombe, along with her partner and another friend, created a political movement across Europe.
“Basically, the way that the European Union works is, you’re supposed to have a political union, but you actually have national interest coming together in a union.”
With the European elections coming up, Colombe and her multinational team representing France, Italy, and Germany, were all faced with similar struggles.
“We were all faced with the same challenges at the end of the day, being worried whether or not we could get jobs, stressed about climate change, and the inhumane ways in which migration is addressed. Yet, we didn’t have a common political force, which made no sense.”
With numerous challenges facing herself and her team, Colombe began making efforts within the European borders.
“We were thinking about what we were doing, and we realized that a lot of the topics that we were trying to tackle were global. Europe only consists of 10% of the population, so focusing only on Europe didn’t make much sense. We then launched a global, social movement, trying to push people to work together across borders to solve issues.”
Colombe Cahen-Salvador is the co-founder of a disruptive global movement known as ‘NOW!’, a force pushing for humanity to work as one to solve the biggest challenges of our time.
Although certain action is often inclusive to the countries that separate us, ‘NOW!’ seeks to solve these issues with the participation and collaboration of citizens across the world and across borders.
“The way I see the world is, we face a certain number of issues that are existential to our time. Climate change is an easy example; it’s urgent, it affects all of us, and it’s not being dealt with. But it’s not the only one. For example, for me, the fact that multi-national companies like Amazon or Facebook pay taxes in just a few countries, depriving the world of something like 600 billion dollars annually, which could eradicate poverty for one year, is another existential issue that makes no sense.”
We have several existential worldly issues, issues that are yet to be solved. If some countries continue to take the steps needed to address certain concerns, whilst others don’t, on a global scale, these problems will never be solved.
“Unless we manage to create a form of global competence, which will take decades, that can actually begin to handle these issues; there’s a responsibility on citizens to do something. While we don’t have a system enabling us to do it systematically, we can try to work together across borders to push forward similar legislation in different parliaments. That’s why I think it’s important because there’s no way to solve these problems right now unless we try to do it ourselves.”
We’ve learned since a young age that when we work together as a team, the job gets done quicker and more efficiently. Colombe’s movement, ‘NOW!’, encourages citizens across the globe to unite as a team and solve the global issues of our time.
Colombe and her team stand and take action not only for what they believe in but for the betterment of the world as a whole, representing one of the only globally inclusive movements of our time.
It takes courage to stand up for what we believe in, especially when it seems that all odds are against us.
“I persevere because, one, it’s not like I’m doing it alone. ‘NOW!’ was founded just over a year ago, and we have over 11,000 members in 120 countries. I started it with my partner, Andrea, and we were doing all of the background work, but now, we have tens of thousands of activists that every day take action on issues that impact them directly and impact people across the world.”
As mentioned in our interview with Eliza Taylor, when we take a stand for what we believe in, we oftentimes find that our actions create ripple effects in the world.
In standing proudly for change, Colombe and her team have inspired thousands who now globally stand with pride and with each other.
“It’s super inspiring to see people from all age groups, all backgrounds, all religions, ethnicities, and so on, coming together beyond their differences and deciding actually to do something to better the world.”
Inspiration is a beautiful cycle of giving and receiving. When we inspire others, they in turn inspire us.
I’m Just Me
Many people have an ‘I’m just me’ mindset, believing that their actions and efforts won’t make an impact or hold importance.
Although we know this isn’t the case, even the movement makers and world shapers like Colombe Cahen-Salvador face this fear daily.
“To be honest, I feel like this every single day. I think it’s completely natural. I think the point is then to connect with others, which we do at ‘NOW!’. We have people from all over the world coming together, and then it’s not just you. It’s literally not just you.”
A beautiful Kenyan Proverb states: ‘Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.’
Everyone involved in ‘NOW!’ has a part to play, no matter how small. Each individual and each of their actions, passions, and devotions are a part of the bigger picture and influence change.
“If you don’t take action, you won’t inspire others to do it, and initially, nothing will change. I like to look at it this way; if you don’t do anything, the situation will stay the same or worsen. If you actually try, worst-case scenario, you inspire one other person to do something; best-case scenario, you actually change the world.”
When we connect with others and try to change what is wrong, we really have nothing to lose. Far too often, we let our fears of inadequacy overrule our potentials and passions.
Yet, if we were to step into our personal power and connect with like-minded people, we may be surprised by what we, as a collective, are truly capable of.
Strength in Stumbling
With chaos and turmoil happening in the world, many people may feel as if they’re stumbling through these next steps in their lives.
In every interview, our friend’s answers have been consistent; it is inevitable to avoid the stumble.
“Before I started my career, when I was still in university, I thought that in life, if you had a plan, it would happen. I thought that it would be linear, and I thought that it was going to make sense. What I learned in the last six years is that it didn’t happen this way, and I don’t think it ever will happen this way.”
In life, we make plans, set goals, and create timelines. The only problem with this is that when our plans go awry, which they will, and our goals aren’t achieved in the timelines we’ve set for ourselves, we feel that our world is ending.
“I had no idea what I was getting into, and I probably made one hundred thousand mistakes. At the same time, it’s how you shape initiatives. If everything works out perfectly from the beginning, most likely you won’t be challenged, and you won’t meet people along the way that will be able to contribute to whatever projects you’re doing.”
Whether we’re starting a new job, finding a new house, or moving to a new country, we will inevitably face stumbles and struggles. But it is within these difficulties that we are shaped, pressured, and eventually molded into all we were meant to become.
“I think that stumbling is completely normal, and I think that everyone experiences it in some way, shape, or form, each and every day. I think it’s a lie if people say they know exactly what they’re doing; at least I’ve never met anyone who has it completely figured out.”
How convenient it would be if from a young age we were told, ‘Darling, nothing is going to work out the way you’ve planned it. But that’s okay; it’ll work out even better than you could’ve imagined.’
Unfortunately, we weren’t taught that back then, but we can begin to learn it right now.
Unity means coming together as one.
As Desmond Tutu quoted: ‘My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.’
“For me, the word unity means accepting that we’re different. It could be within a group of friends, a country, or a region, but that there’s something worth coming together for. It’s not pretending that we’re completely the same or that we’ll agree on everything. Still, it’s putting those differences aside and understanding that there are certain issues worth working together for.”
Once we begin to put aside our differences and what separates us, we begin to see that deep down; we are all the same. Just like me, you face trials, you don’t have it all figured out, and just like me, you want to make a difference in this world and can.
“We don’t come from the same places, we don’t come from the same backgrounds, and that’s fine. We need to be able to overcome this and stand together.”
“I think the best piece of advice I’ve ever received was to disregard unwanted and unwarranted feedback. I’m one of those sensitive people who takes everything to heart, and when someone would make a negative comment, it would completely shatter my self-confidence.”
Isn’t it funny in life, whether we have ten or ten thousand people cheering us on and believing in us, it only takes that one negative comment to bring us down?
We must learn the difference between constructive criticism and plain old criticism and begin to disregard the comments and critiques that aren’t progressive and intended for our benefit.
“It was impossible and overwhelming to please everybody. And then a friend told me, ‘Why are you listening to this? You should be asking people when you want feedback and when it’s useful for you.’ It honestly changed my life.”
Feedback can be valuable and aid our growth. But not all feedback is valuable, and we must begin to differentiate the two, as not to become controlled by others' opinions.
We asked Colombe Cahen-Salvador what she believes 100% to be true, her answer:
“I don’t think anything in life is one hundred percent true.”
At TrooMe, we believe that taking a stand for what we believe in attracts like-minded people who believe in our cause and believe in us.
We are stronger together, and the time to act is now.
May we follow in Colombe Cahen-Salvador's footsteps, knowing that life will throw us curveballs, but when we have a team behind us, nothing is impossible to catch.
Check out ‘NOW!’