A child talks to the world
Severn Cullis-Suzuki is a Canadian environmental activist, speaker, television host and author. She has spoken around the world about environmental issues, urging listeners to define their values, act with the future in mind, and take individual responsibility. She graduated from Yale University in 2002 with a B.Sc. in ecology and evolutionary biology. She is married and lives with her husband and child in Haida Gwaii (off the coast of BC, Canada).
Uploaded on Oct 5, 2011
This is an incredible video of a Canadian girl who spoke to the United Nations and left them completely silent and speechless for six minutes. Her name is Severn Cullis-Suzuki, and her speech was given at a U.N. assembly in Brazil when she was twelve years old. She had raised all the money to travel to the delegation, five thousand miles from her home, herself.
Published on Jun 17, 2012
Environmental activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki returned to Rio on 16 June 2012, some two decades after stopping the world with her impassioned plea to governments to do more to preserve the world and its ecosystems for future generations.
Severn is in Rio as part of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and delivered her first address in the Brazilian city since 1992 during the day-long “Green Cross Returns to Rio” event on 16 June 2012.
The Green Cross event recognized the issues and activities that drive the NGO founded by President Mikhail Gorbachev out of the 1992 Earth Summit.
Rachel Aliene Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003) from Olympia, Washington, was an American peace activist as well as a member of the pro-Palestinian group called International Solidarity Movement (ISM). She was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) armored bulldozer in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip under contested circumstances during the height of the second Palestinian intifada
She had come to Gaza as part of her senior-year college assignment to connect her home town with Rafah in a sister cities project. While there she had engaged with other ISM activists in efforts to non-violently prevent the Israeli army’s demolition of the homes of Palestinian people.
Less than two months after her arrival, on March 16, 2003, Corrie was killed after a three-hour confrontation between two bulldozers and eight ISM activists. Wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket and, until shortly before her death, using a megaphone, she was killed while standing in the path of a bulldozer that she believed was about to demolish the house of local pharmacist Samir Nasralla’s family whom she had befriended. She was run over twice by the bulldozer resulting in a fractured skull, shattered ribs and punctured lungs.
The exact nature of her death and the culpability of the bulldozer operator are disputed, with eyewitnesses saying that the Israeli soldier operating the bulldozer deliberately ran over Corrie, and the Israeli government saying that it was an accident since the bulldozer operator could not see her.
In 2005 Corrie’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against the state of Israel. The lawsuit charged Israel with not conducting a full and credible investigation into the case and with responsibility for her death, contending that she had either been intentionally killed or that the soldiers had acted with reckless neglect. They sued for a symbolic one U.S. dollar in damages to make the point that their case was about justice for their daughter and the Palestinian cause she had been defending.
In August 2012, an Israeli court rejected their suit and upheld the results of Israel’s 2003 military investigation, ruling that the Israeli government was not responsible for Corrie’s death. The ruling, the Israeli justice system, and the investigation it exonerated have been criticized.
Rachel Corrie’s life has been memorialized in several tributes, including the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie and the cantata The Skies are Weeping. Her collected writings were published in 2008 under the title Let Me Stand Alone, opening “a window on the maturation of a young woman seeking to make the world a better place”. The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice has been established to continue her work.
Everyday, more and more people become aware of Rachel’s work in Palestine and the positivity she left behind. Her parents have tirelessly been working for the last 7 years to bring justice for the shocking and disgraceful behaviour shown by the Israeli and American governments regarding Rachel’s death.
I sincerely hope you will help Rachel, her parents and supporters by spreading this video and learning more about her.
Please visit the Rachel Corrie Foundation
Last week, I and a few others in my group gave a presentation to the NYC office of Waggener Edstrom about digital storytelling, social media and findability. One of the points I made sure to focus on was the gradual decline in ‘us vs. them’ thinking. The same isolating fear-based separation that leads to war, depression, loneliness, and a lot of the suffering that goes on in the world is alive and well in business.
The human mind has a tendency to categorize people into social groups. Often these social groups can create an “Us vs. Them” mentality toward people who may be different than us in some way, whether it’s race, gender, age, nationality, culture, religion, or socioeconomic status.
This ‘“Us vs. Them” mentality is a very dangerous virus that pervades many minds on this planet. Often it is so woven into the fabric of our conditioning that many don’t even recognize it in themselves. We stop seeing individual difference within the group. Instead, we see only faceless ‘They’, which is always bad or wrong, while ‘We’ are always right.
This virus of the mind limits us, keeps us in perpetual cycles of fear and violence. We feel justified, even righteous in shouting down or shooting down “them”. Not surprisingly the ‘Us vs Them’ approach is commonly used in military training.
Amazingly, studies of the ‘Us vs. them’ mentality have shown that people tend to favor a group bias even when they are categorized on relatively meaningless distinctions, for example: eye color, what kind of paintings they like, or even the flip of a coin. This tells us that we can potentially separate ourselves from a certain group of people on any random and arbitrary characteristic. Therefore, everyone is susceptible to be a perpetrator and/or victims of social prejudice and ostracism, even if the only difference is a star on a tummy, like in the case of Dr. Seuss’s plain and star bellied Sneetches depicted below.
from Us vs. Them
From evolutionary perspective ’Us vs. Them’ mentality makes sense. We’ve evolved to perceive these social categories as during tribal times, it would be beneficial to perceive unfamiliar people as a potential threat and treat them as such for protection and security.
Today many of these social categories and stereotypes are propagated by society, tradition, and culture. We see that all the time in politics (Republicans vs. Democrats), war (Palestine vs. Israel), sports (Mets vs. Yankees), and other aspects of our culture. Even though this mentality is not relevant in modern conditions and creates unnecessary tension and antagonism between everyone, we are struggling with getting over this toxic meme.
How can we fight this powerful virus of the mind and bridge the gap between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’?
Steven Handel believes that first of all, we need to “become more aware of our tendency to put people into groups and create an “Us vs. Them” mentality. Then, instead of seeing people in groups, we should try to see everyone as an individual worthy of respect, equality, and kindness, regardless of what groups they may be categorized in. If you choose to associate with a group identity, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Just be super mindful of it and be cautious if that identity starts to have a negative influence on how you view other people who you don’t identify with.”
Like Steven Handel, I try to identify with everyone in some way. I believe at the core we are all human beings and want the same things in life, regardless of our race, religion or culture. We all want to know our family is safe. We all want to be loved and appreciated, have food on the table, enjoy good health. In that sense, we are all very similar and are connected as one.
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In other words, there is no ‘them’. There is only ‘us’. That’s the secret.
[There’s a whole school of thought on what’s called “ingroup favoritism”]