The following is the transcript of the speech that Severn Suzuki gave to the Plenary Session at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio Centro, Brazil. Severn was twelve years old. SASS feels there is no better example of a young person standing up and speaking on behalf of something in which they truly believe, for the betterment of themselves and the world around them.
Hello, I’m Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O. – The Environmental Children’s Organisation.
We are a group of twelve and thirteen-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference:
Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come six thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.
Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.
I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard.
I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.
I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it.
I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going extinct every day — vanishing forever.
In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterfilies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.
Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age?
All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you!
* You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer.
* You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream.
* You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct.
* And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert.
If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!
Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organisers, reporters or poiticians – but really you are mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, aunts and uncles – and all of you are somebody’s child.
I’m only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil — borders and governments will never change that.
I’m only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.
In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel.
In my country, we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to lose some of our wealth, afraid to share.
In Canada, we live the privileged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter — we have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets.
Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with some children living on the streets. And this is what one child told us: “I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicine, shelter and love and affection.”
If a child on the street who has nothing, is willing to share, why are we who have everyting still so greedy?
I can’t stop thinking that these children are my age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born, that I could be one of those children living in the Favellas of Rio; I could be a child starving in Somalia; a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.
I’m only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this earth would be!
At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us to behave in the world. 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?
Do not forget why you’re attending these conferences, who you’re doing this for — we are your own children. You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying “everyting’s going to be alright”, “we’re doing the best we can” and “it’s not the end of the world”.
But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says “You are what you do, not what you say.”
Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown ups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words. Thank you for listening
The Cannibals Story
A big corporation hired several cannibals. “You are all part of our team now,” said the HR manager during the welcome briefing. “You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please don’t eat any of the other employees.” The cannibals promised they would not.
A few weeks later the cannibals’ boss remarked, “You’re all working very hard, and I’m satisfied with you. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?” The cannibals all shook their heads, “No,” they said.
After the boss left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others angrily, “Right, which one of you idiots ate the secretary?”
A hand rose hesitantly in admission. “You fool!” said the leader, “For weeks we’ve been eating managers and no one noticed anything, but nooo, you had to go and eat someone important!…”
After having a good 6 hours sleep, the first thing I was looking for on my bed was my cell phone as always, worrying about being late from Office, 7:00 am – Thanks God , so I did not miss alarm set at 7:30 am. Here I was having half hour, nothing to do but to press my clothes and getting ready for office. Thanks to cell phone’s SMS preview option, the Facebook status of a friend caught my eye. it says “What!? Steve Jobs ?”. I felt good… felt like I am loaded with energies, It was as good as you see an emerging beam of light after decades of darkness….I mean it was so good to read the name…“Steve Jobs”.
Surrounded with the bright light, some random thoughts also stuck my head…
“Did Steve criticize the launch of IPhone 4S , in spite of IPhone 5?”
“ Has he taken back his resignation and is appointed as CEO Apple once again?”
well whatever… I was happy to read his name and that’s it…
On the way to office, nothing else but “Steve Jobs” was on my mind…His Commencement address at Stanford University (2005) ,The Company he founded, was fired from and to whom he returned as CEO and turned it into world’s leading tech giant…
& His famous quote
“You know, I’ve got a plan that could rescue Apple. I can’t say any more than that it’s the perfect product and the perfect strategy for Apple. But nobody there will listen to me.”(1995)
& The words of John Sculley ( the guy who fired Steve from Apple)
“I haven’t spoken to Steve in 20-odd years, even though he still doesn’t speak to me, and I expect he never will, I have tremendous admiration for him.”
& his response when fired from Apple:
“I didn’t see it then but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again,less sure about everything.It freed me to enter one of the most creative period of my life.”
Reached office, heard a sad Assalam o Allaikum (Hello) from colleague sitting next to my cabin, the Steve’s thought gone for a second and I was thinking about the Sad greeting that used to be a very warm one everyday...”Wa elekum Salam” , I replied…and the next lines of him amazed me.. “Did you hear about Steve Jobs..The apple CEO” (No one says Former CEO)…oh my God..! Something big has happened that relates to Steve…My sixth sense whispered..“No …!What happened” I was too keen to know…“He died……………!” was the reply...”Are u kidding me..?” is what i was going to ask, but could not …“He died few hours ago..what a nice person he was..Man with power of Leadership…believe and optimisim…” He continued..
My goodness…I was speechless…
The 7 am time check, the Facebook status of Tauseef….the refreshing light i felt within myself…18 Km traveled distance with thougts of Steve Jobs…everything was running like a video in my mind…I was still not ready to accept it..rather my heart wasn’t…
And finally I have to believe it ….as I logged into BBC News…Yahoo News…He was everywhere….on news, search engines, social networks…He was everywhere too, when Apple launched first PC, IPhones.. IPads…and probabaly sum other products as well…He was everywhere when Apples shares were down by almost US $ 80 when he went on sick leave…When he resigned as a CEO and now when………..he is no more with us…that was shocking….
Every guy entering office was talking about his death…and with words of praise…to my amazement most of them never used any Apple product…yet the words of praise were remarkable…
I,myself have never used any Apple product…probably never liked any as well…but I admired the Founder..who gave the world a reason for self belief…motivation and understanding the value of creativity..Who taught us not to live with the fear of Failure…Who was a great Leader, Mentor and Teacher.He showed us to live each day at its best…
The last post of this blog was written on the day…He resigned..was not expecting to write another one…on this occasion…
Today I & the world lost the most inspiring person of the Era….Rest in Peace…We will Miss you…
Don’t Change the World
Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled a prosperous country. One day, he went for a trip to some distant areas of his country.
When he was back to his palace, he complained that his feet were very painful, because it was the first time that he went for such a long trip, and the road that he went through was very rough and stony. He then ordered his people to cover every road of the entire country with leather. Definitely, this would need thousands of cows’ skin, and would cost a huge amount of money.
Then one of his wise servant dared himself to tell the king, “Why do you have to spend that unnecessary amount of money ? Why don’t you just cut a little piece of leather to cover your feet?”
The king was surprised, but he later agreed to his suggestion, to make a “shoe” for himself.
There is actually a valuable lesson of life in this story: “To make this world a happy place to live, you better change yourself – your heart; and not the world.”
There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died.
In her grief, she went to the holy man and said, “What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?”
Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.”
The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed. She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this a place? It is very important to me.”
They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them. The woman said to herself, “Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people that I, who have had misfortune of my own?”
She stayed to comfort them, and then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow. But wherever she turned, in hovels and in other places, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune.
She became so involved in ministering to other people’s grief that ultimately she forgot about her quest for the magical mustard seed, never realizing that it had, in fact, driven the sorrow out of her life.
A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.
The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.
After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.
The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?”
The other friend replied “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”
LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE.