From the mouths of children

hear, hear…

I take the opportunity to post here a text by Severn Suzuki, the little girl above, ten years after that speech:

The Young Can’t Wait by Severn Suzuki

Posted Sunday, August 18, 2002; 7:31 a.m.
When you are little, it’s not hard to believe you can change the world. I remember my enthusiasm when, at the age of 12, I addressed the delegates at the Rio Earth Summit. “I am only a child,” I told them. “Yet I know that if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this would be. In school you teach us not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do? You grownups say you love us, but I challenge you, please, to make your actions reflect your words.”

I spoke for six minutes and received a standing ovation. Some of the delegates even cried. I thought that maybe I had reached some of them, that my speech might actually spur action. Now, a decade from Rio, after I’ve sat through many more conferences, I’m not sure what has been accomplished. My confidence in the people in power and in the power of an individual’s voice to reach them has been deeply shaken.

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