“We live in a finite world with finite resources. Although it may sometimes seem quite big, earth is really very small – a tiny blue and green oasis of life in a cold universe.”
“We no longer see the world as a single entity. We’ve moved to cities and we think the economy is what gives us our life…without regard to what it does to the rest of the world.” David Suzuki (1936-Present)
I recently attended a lecture by David Suzuki at the Chan Centre in Vancouver. I went with my daughter Rochelle who attends the University of British Columbia and since the lecture was on campus, I met her there right after work. As I took the Grandview exit off the highway and came to a stop, I couldn’t help but notice the annual crow migration – as every tree, building and telephone line in sight was occupied by the black hordes, and the murders still in flight were perfectly silhouetted against the dusky skies. It looked like a scene out of Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, but somehow it seemed apropos give the tone of the lecture I was traveling to hear, which was entitled ‘The Global Eco-Crisis; Is It Too Late?’ We met at the bookstore and walked over to the event, which had been sold out for quite some time. Once inside, the queues in the lobby were already quite long, but we still managed to stumble upon the table where David was signing books – so we purchased a pair, got our autographs and took a quick photo. To be honest, he looked a bit tired and focused on the task at hand, which was pleasing the throngs of book-buyers and glancing up in sync with the camera flash – but he also looked like a man who had something urgent to say and was being delayed by the restraints of propriety. When the inner doors finally opened, we took our seats and waited for the lecture to begin. It began in dramatic fashion with David center stage – there was lots of body language and loud, controversial statements designed to catch our attention. Truth be told, it wasn’t necessary, because he was already preaching to the converted. David really started hitting his stride towards the end of the lecture, when he went off-script and started talking to us straight from the heart. He confided that one of his worse fears was that we were leaving very little for the next generation, which included his own grandchildren – and he lamented that even the simple joy of owning a home in Vancouver was out of reach for most young people. He talked about the house which he had purchased in Kitsilano many years ago with the help of family. David told us that he had never thought of it as a ‘starter home’ or short-term investment, and the idea of ‘buying-up’ was only something he had read in the many real estate brochures that plagued his front door. He reminisced about his raspberries and asparagus, both planted as gifts from his gardener father-in-law…the Dogwood tree in the backyard, under which his children had buried the family pets and even a few strays…the old cupboard in the kitchen handcrafted by his father – all things that were priceless to him. Home was not an investment, but a living, breathing entity woven into the very fabric of every neighborhood – a place to grow up and grow old, a place to leave to your children. David then likened his house to the one place that we all call home, this planet Earth. He also reminded us, both young and old, that we are just temporary residents of this finite space and what we leave behind for the next generation will define us as a society. When he had finished, we all got on our feet for a standing ovation, which lasted several minutes. David waited for the applause to fade, said thank you, signed a few few more books in the lobby and went home.