Thursday, June 26, 2008

Community and responsibility

In 1992, when she was only 12, Severn Cullis-Suzuki brought world leaders to tears with a speech at the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in which she chastised them for failing to protect her and her friends from the looming environmental catastrophe.

That was 16 years ago.

Her words remain more than relevant today. As I listened to her, I thought of the power, importance and nature of authentic community, no matter what the issue.

Take a moment and hear her out. Then, let me know your reactions.


Anonymous said...

First, I love the fact that she recognizes that where someone is born and into what context someone is born makes a massive difference in what opportunities such a person will have. If more blessed people would recognize this fact, I believe there would be a great global awareness for those who are not born into such a blessed context.

Second, her challenge still needs to be heard. We have a responsibility and especially as Christians. The part of her speech about people are what they do and not what they say echoes the Epistle James in many ways.

Third, my one concern is not so much in what she said but is more of what I hear in many conversations concerning global responsibility with regards to people and environment. I have spent the last two years living in one of the most "green" cultures in North American (Ithaca, NY). While there is a lot of concern regarding global problems, so much of that concern speaks as though the future is completely dependent upon us. As a Christian, I believe this is problematic. In thinking about the "Lord's Prayer," before we can do ("let") the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven we must pray for this kingdom to come. Thus, prayer acknowledges our utter dependence upon God to accomplish what he has called us to be responsible for. This should not bother us because I believe if we would truly prayer this prayer about the kingdom, the Spirit of God would also move us to do more for the sake of the kingdom.

I enjoyed listening to this small speech. Thanks for sharing!


Chris said...

The girl gets it honestly. Her father, David Suzuki, is the Al Gore of Canada. He thinks there should be a legal way to jail political leaders who disagree with his global warming theory. He thinks Canada should be branded "international outlaws" for reneging on Kyota agreements. His foundation purchases carbon offsets, probably enriching Al Gore, while taking a cross country trip on a diesel bus which has him over his carbon limit by HUNDREDS of tons. Reminds me of Al Gore who uses more electricity in one month than the average person uses in a year and still preaches to us. Can anyone say hypocrite?

Anonymous said...

And now for a philosophical question:

If Chris comments with her propaganda and no one responds, did anyone really hear it?

Eric Livingston said...


Your third point gives me pause as well. I just had this discussion in my Sun morning Bible class last week and then posted the notes and discussion on my blog.

How much responsibility do we bear? How much is God really in control?

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that if we pray for God's Kingdom to come, then we are submitting ourselves to be willing participants in God's efforts to bring His Kingdom to earth.

We know that we have responsibility as stewards of the earth. We know our love for our neighbors ought to provoke creation care among us. We know walking humbly and living justly entails distribution of resources according to The Creator's strange brand of justice. These are things God wants for His creation, and as Christians we are called to be submissive servants and participants in those endeavors.

"God grant that we will be participants in this newness and this magnificent development. If we will but do it, we will bring about a new day of justice and brotherhood and peace. And that day the morning stars will sing together and the sons of God will shout for joy." - MLK, Jr.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:48,

Do you hear ... the silence?

Anonymous said...


That is the very candid point. I have never heard the bridge between God's work and our responsibility acrticulated so pointedly and correctly. "[I]f we pray for God's Kingdom to come, then we are submitting ourselves to be willing participants in God's efforts to bring His Kingdom to earth." I might steal that line for a class or sermon.


Grouchy Republican said...

Now Chris, you cannot attack the high priest of environmentalism that way. Stop it! He has offset all of that electricity he uses in his house with carbon credits. You should know that.

I've got a question about global warming and how scientists say this is man-made and cannot part of any natural cycle. Haven't we had an ice-age or two? Where did all the darned ice go? Did it disappear because Fred Flintstone didn't get his catalytic converter serviced regularly or might there been some sort of naturally-occurring warm-up of the earth?

Gimme a break! These people can't predict the weather three days out but they make all these dire predictions as if they are so precise.

Eric Livingston said...


You're right that there are some doomsayers out there. But, if you're a Christian, how do interact with the rest of creation? Do you have any responsibilities as a steward of the earth? What about the charge in the garden to guard and care for the earth? Does Jesus' call to love your neighbor include future generations of neighbors?

Even if you're not a Christian, as a good capitalistic Republican, do you think there is any opportunity for entrepreneurs to capitalize on leveraging new and cleaner energy sources? There is definitely a demand for it. What if our current addiction to oil fuels entrepreneurship and economic growth because our desire to shift to different energy sources. Those grand business leaders and economic pushers known as Big Oil could drum up whole new industries if they open themselves to alternate fuel source productions. We could have huge economic booms as every corner gas station changes to a recharging station. CEOs, engineers, scientists, gas station attendants, and on and on the list goes, could all find new opportunities in such an industry. Perhaps the cure to our current economic disease lies in new energy sources.

Anonymous said...


Peronsally, my biggest objection to Chris is not only the substance of what is said, even though sometimes it has absolutely no support in fact, but the way it's said. The tone is condescending and sanctimonious.


There are in fact numerous well funded efforts to find alternative energy sources. But after a decade of highly favorable treatment, wind and solar accout for less than 1% of US energy. Right now, the technology just isn't there. But that's not for lack of trying.

GR said...

Eric, actually I was just wanting my question answered. If the ice ages went away due to naturally-occurring fluctuations in global temperatures, how can anyone be sure that the very small increases in global temperatures (and there is some controversy about whether that has even occurred) are man-made.

Sounds like a reasonable question to me.

GR said...

From today's WSJ:

"But mother nature has opinions of her own. NASA now begrudgingly confirms that the hottest year on record in the continental 48 was not 1998, as previously believed, but 1934, and that six of the 10 hottest years since 1880 antedate 1954. Data from 3,000 scientific robots in the world's oceans show there has been slight cooling in the past five years, never mind that "80% to 90% of global warming involves heating up ocean waters," according to a report by NPR's Richard Harris."

Maybe I need to fire up the old truck and help prevent global cooling.

Eric Livingston said...


Your question is a reasonable question, but has no influence over the theological position that we ought to be caretakers of the earth.

I grant that the jury is still out on global warming. Still, those of us who acknowledge our Creator, ought to be greatly concerned about His creation that was deemed good by the Creator himself.

I'm almost certain God's plan for the earth never requires you to fire up your truck to help creation out.

GR said...

"I'm almost certain God's plan for the earth never requires you to fire up your truck to help creation out."

Eric, I'm sorry humor seems to be lost on you as well as the real point of my question. My question did not pertain to "the theological position that we ought to be caretakers of the earth." Except from the standpoint of whether or not those predicting such dire consequences from global warming are trying to dress their arguments up in theological positions and the evidence be damned. So, yeah, it is more relevant than you might think.

The idea that "Big Oil" could create new markets if they would simply "open themselves to alternative fuel source productions" betrays a fairly conspiratorial belief in regards to how industry and entrepreneurs operate. If those things are there as you seem to imply, they will be exploited for the profits. However, if the technology is not yet there or if the costs are prohibitive, no one is going to do it yet. I have no doubt alternative sources will be developed, but in the meantime, I am not that wild about being an economic hostage.

And, I notice no one has answered it yet.