Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realize
we cannot eat money.
It’s funny how the littlest incidents can give you hope in the face of overwhelming worries.
This morning I listened to “The Last Call” on CBC Radio one, a special program hosted by renowned environmentalist David Suzuki. One of the people he interviewed was Annie Leonard, the woman featured in the short video above. I was struck by how concise yet articulate she was.
When the radio show ended, I decided to google Leonard’s short movie. About 7 minutes in, my 13-year-old sister, Bebe, entered the room and peered over my shoulder. To my surprise, she asked me to start the movie again from the beginning. From the corner of my eye I noticed the look of concern on her face. For a girl who loves to shop, she laughed quite heartily at skinny heel vs. fat heel segment of the video. It seemed she took a moment to question her own love of malls and sparkly new things. When it was over, Bebe said that the video–which is being used in classrooms across the United States–should also be shown here in Canada.
You know, her warm reception of the short film gave me hope. In the past, I thought I was boring Bebe with all my talk of environmental activism. At the age of 23, I thought I may already be sounding like a lecturing grown-up to her. When I reminded her of simple things, like taking shorter showers or turning off her lights, she would occasionally grumble or make a long face. Now that I think about it, though, this may be because little sisters don’t always like being nagged by big sisters in general. The message of responsible citizenry, however, may actually be getting through to her.
When I pulled out David Suzuki’s book The Big Picture during a recent family trip, Bebe asked me to read it out loud several times. Sometimes I stopped to ask if I was boring her but she always asked me to go on. Yesterday, when our cousin Bianca was taking a long shower, Bebe knocked on the door and reminded her to “please keep your shower short.” I was dumbstruck. Lately I’ve even had to swallow my pride a few times when Bebe calls me on some of my own bad habits, like when I also forget to turn off my lights.
But I don’t know why I should be so surprised.
All this is to say that you should share this video with a youngster (or not-s0-youngster) in your life that you may not be giving enough credit. Though it is only a general overview, I think it does a good job of introducing the problem and asking us to think beyond “me” “right here” “right now”.
As you can gauge from the comments below, there is a bit of controversy surrounding this video. I’ll come right out and admit that I haven’t sat down to watch the full four part critique of the story of stuff, but thankfully another thoughtful and articulate blogger has. I really think it’s worth reading his critique of the critique.
At the very least, this exchange has reminded me that every argument–even the ones we agree with–need to be critically evaluated. Still, I absolutely and fundamentally remain convinced that Leonard is contributing to a discussion that we need to have. Although her individual examples vary in strength and border on simplicity, every single point should be considered.