In celebration of Earth Day, let’s take the time to remember a young girl who spoke twenty-two years ago about social justice and environmental issues we must deal with. Severn Suzuki is that young girl. At nine years old, she and several friends started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO) with the objective of learning and teaching others about environmental issues. It’s crazy to think that about how she spoke in front of the United Nations Rio Earth Summit in 1992 (that was the year I was born!). I always go back to her speech and remember how much she moved me the first time I watched it. She is powerful and attention-grabbing and globally influential in so many ways.
Watch Severn’s 1992 speech below:
It took six minutes to freeze the world for that short period of time and send out this urgent message to her peers, those who had the power to do something, and the generations to follow. In the video below, Severn comes back to the summer after twenty years to talk about how far the world has come in being more sustainable. A lot has changed, but we still have a long way to go. Although she is Canadian, I would vote for her as our president. It would be nice to have a leader who cares about our global well-being rather than just focusing on our country’s well-being, or our politics, our economics, our money, our… (you get the picture).
After watching both videos again and again, I read several of the comments below and was disheartened by how much negativity there was. I don’t understand how people have the nerve to say things like, “she hasn’t grown up yet.” This criticism towards Suzuki stems from similar comments that states she is “living in this fantasy world where she thinks she can change it.” My response: the fact that she continues to stand her ground and fight for what she believes in is already changing the world. Severn is an example of how youth should stand up for what they believe in despite their age, experience, and financial/political power. Also, she has grown into an amazing role model. She went to Yale University for her bachelor’s degree, then received her master’s in Canada. She constantly speaks at conventions and events supporting advocacy for environmentally issues and has first-hand experience in working with people of all ages to help them live a more sustainable life. So, negative-youtube-commenter, she has grown up… are you grown up?
Another common comment I read was, “I can’t stand her whining voice.” What’s worse is reading this comment from several female viewers. First, she does not have a whining voice, she is authoritative. Second, comments like these just play into gender roles and double standards. It’s okay for a many to urge people to make a change and speak there mind, but when a woman speaks her mind… she is whining? NO.
My last vent is for the hundreds of comments that say, “not much has changed, I don’t get why shes still trying.” She is still trying because she truly believes in the cause and a lot has changed. People don’t understand how much activists go through behind the scenes to make small strides and work with legislation, while also spreading awareness in the community, while also creating new knowledge through more research on the side. SO MUCH INFORMATION AND STUDIES AND SUSTAINABLE MACHINES has been created and accumulated in the last twenty years. Communities, countries, states, governments, and individuals alike are affected because of the vast amount of information and technology available. This is all possible NOW because of people like Severn Suzuki. So, think again before you try to bring down someone’s lifetime of work and dumb it down into one remark like that.
I apologize for my vent session. This post is more about celebrating Earth Day and people like Severn Suzuki. I hope you enjoyed the videos and I would love to hear feedback of what you think about this post. I will leave you with this… ask yourself, AM I LIVING MY LIFE IN AN ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY WAY? DO I UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH THE EARTH’S WELL-BEING AFFECTS MY WELL-BEING AS AN INDIVIDUAL? WHAT AM I DOING TO MAKE THE WORLD BETTER FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS?