Monday, June 16, 2008

The Girl Who Silenced the World at the UN

This video recently came to my attention, and I absolutely must bring it to all of yours. I've written before about people who've inspired me by their courage in "speaking truth to power" and in standing up and doing the something that they can do. (One of the Greek terms that is usually translated in the Christian Scriptures as "sin" actually means, "lying down when you should have been standing up.")

Born and raised in Vancouver, Severn Suzuki has been working on environmental and social justice issues since kindergarten. At age 9, she and some friends started the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They traveled to 1992's UN Earth Summit, where 12 year-old Severn gave this powerful speech that deeply affected (and silenced) some of the most prominent world leaders. The speech had such an impact that she has become a frequent invitee to many UN conferences.

Please listen not only to this young person's words, but to the deeper message in the fact that a 12 year-old is speaking them to the United Nations. What could you be doing?

in Gassho,

Rev. Wik

To get a text copy of the speech, click here


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15 comments:

Robin Edgar said...

Severn Suzuki is the daughter of Canadian environmental activist and broadcaster David Suzuki. Guess who wrote that speech, or at least provided plenty of input and advice. . .

DiscoverUU.com said...

-this is an amazing speech regardless of who penned or edited it. She clearly understood and meant each and every word she was saying.
Thank you so much for sharing.

RevWik said...

robin,

Nice to hear from you again. It's good to know you're still out there.

I'm a little confused by the intent of your comment, though. Are you wanting to give David Suzuki more credit or detract from the praise given his daughter?

Is there something about David Suzuki that I don't know? (I'll readily admit that all I know of him is that he is "a Canadian environmental activist and broadcaster.") Her mother is a writer and a geneticist, is that relevant?

At the same time she, the younger Ms. Suzuki, did, at the age of 9, actually create a youth organization called the Environmental Children's Organization, and did go on to serve on Kofi Annan's Special Advisory Panel having graduated from Yale University in 2002 with a B.Sc. in ecology and evolutionary biology. So it looks to me like Severn Suzuki has some real credentials of her own.

Besides, don't most politicians have speechwriters? So, again, I'm confused as to your point.

RevWik

Robin Edgar said...

My point should be obvious. There was probably a lot of adult input into that speech which was attributed to a child.

Robin Edgar said...

One of the Greek terms that is usually translated in the Christian Scriptures as "sin" actually means, "lying down when you should have been standing up."

You mean like this?

http://emersonavenger.blogspot.com/2008/06/is-rev-diane-rollert-liar.html

Intestingly enough Rev. Diane Rollert was standing up in front of a judge when she lied under oath. . .

Robin Edgar said...

Looks like Blogger cut the URL.

Here's a link

RevWik said...

Well that part was obvious, Robin. I'm sorry. I must not have been clear enough in my question: to what purpose are you making that point?

Do you think that there are people who would assume that at 12 year-old girl wrote a speech like that with no input from any of the adults in her lives--parents, teachers, or others?

Most of the adults who make public speeches have, sometimes, teams of speechwriters working for them. I can't imagine that anyone would think that Miss Suzuki wrote that speech on her own.

At the same time, I wouldn't hazzard a guess as to how much assistance, nor of what kind, she was given. Did her father and mother go over it with her, edit it, help her to polish it? Did they make suggestions for things to include? Did they write the whole thing and give it to her to say?

From your original comment I can't tell if you were wanting to imply the later--that the words were not hers--or to simply make sure that no one had overlooked the obvious--that well-crafted speeches are usually the result of collaboration.

That's what wasn't--and isn't--obvious to me. It seems to me that, as discoveruu.com said, the 12 year-old who delivered that speech understood what she was saying and delivered it well. I'd add, too, that given the trajectory of her life since it seems that she deeply believed it as well.

RevWik

Robin Edgar said...

You said - Please listen not only to this young person's words, but to the deeper message in the fact that a 12 year-old is speaking them to the United Nations.

I was pointing out that Severn Suzuki isn't just *any* 12 year old and that it is very likely that her speech to the UN had considerable input, I don't know how much, from her environmental activist father to say nothing of her mother. Parents are not unknown to deliver messages via the mouths of their children n'est-ce pas Rev. Wik? I am not trying to diminish the meaning of the speech itself but I am not convinced that it has a "deeper message" just because a 12 year old delivered it.

Robin Edgar said...

Now I wonder if you would care to do a blog post titled "The Guy Who Was Silenced by the U*Us"?

Not that the restraining order that Montreal Unitarians recently obtained against me on the basis of misleading half-truths, whole lies, and outright paranoid fantasies will completely silence me. . . Au contraire U*Us can be quite sure that I will increase the volume of my whistle blowing the minute it expires.

RevWik said...

Robin,

I think you've made a good point about over romanticizing the age of the messenger. Still, I think she delivered this message tremendously well--and I'm not convinced that we should discount her role in writing those words completely as you seem to want to. And whether she was 12 or 24 or 82, she stood there as an individual as opposed to as a professional politician or a representative of some powerful group. THAT seems worth paying attention to, in and of itself.

Rev. Wik

Will Shetterly said...

I've known some very eloquent twelve-year-olds. Assuming a sixth-grader cannot write well is one of those assumptions that's tested by the exceptions.

Robin Edgar said...

"I think you've made a good point about over romanticizing the age of the messenger."

That was the main point that I was trying to make RevWik, especially since it is likely that Severn Suzuki's message had plenty of influence and input from her parents. I was being waggish and facetious (something I am wont to do from time to time) when I said "Guess who write that speech" but I was serious about the suggestion that David Suzuki probably provided "plenty of input and advice".

Interestingly enough I have stood there as an individual, as opposed to a religious professional or a representative of some powerful group, exposing and denouncing U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy for more than a decade now. Why is it that U*Us do not believe that THAT seems worth paying attention to, in and of itself? When are U*Us going to actually pay attention to what I am saying when I speak truth to U*U power* and respond to my legitimate grievances and criticism of U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy in a manner that actually lives up to U*U principles and ideals rather than flagrantly disregarding them and wantonly violating them RevWik?


*in reality U*U abuse of power and other U*U weakness and failures. . .

RevWik said...

Thanks, Will. Nice to have someone else make that point. Robin's recognition that it is highly unlikely that there was not some parental involvement in this speech seems right on to me. At the same time, as I've said, we can't know how much nor of what kind that involvement was. I used to be a pretty good magician when I was a kid--considered pretty mature and professional even whilst in sixth grade, and my parents watched my rehearsals, made suggestions for improvement, but most of it was me. Can't say as I'd be surprised if something like that were true here, too.

Rev. Wik

RevWik said...

Robin,

I've sent an e-mail to you directly regarding your complaints about the Unitarian Church of Montreal in particular and UUism in general. Your own blog--EmersonAvenger.blogspot.com--covers your perspective on these issues quite well, and to anyone interested in purusing them I'd strongly encourage you to go straight to the source.

Still, do you think it would it be possible in the future, Robin, for you to keep your comments here more directly related to the topics at hand? I don't want to silence the conversation you want to have about the injustices you've experienced and that you perceive in UUism as a whole, yet neither do I want to see this blog derailed to go there. Can we agree on this?

RevWik

Robin Edgar said...

Sure RevWik but I was under the impression that the overall theme of this blog post was "speaking truth to power" and in standing up and doing the something that they can do. So, when prompted by the content of one of your own comments, I decided to see what I could do here. ;-)

I will respond to your email in detail in the coming days. It somehow ended up in my SPAM folder.