Today is David Suzuki‘s seventieth birthday.
The first time I became aware of this Canadian geneticist was in a children’s science program. But it was years later before I saw him again on television. This time he was talking at the Foreign Press Club in Australia. It was then I realized that he was an environmentalist. He was a passionate and articulate speaker much like David Bellamy (British botanist) or David Attenborough (British naturalist).
It was this televised speech that got me curious about environmentalism. Back then I associated this term with radical thinking, protests and trouble makers. A nuisance was what I thought of them. For this humble and concerned man talked about problems I was scarcely aware of, or worse, I dismissed as alarmist. But he made some sense and it shattered the image I had of environmentalism and environmentalists.
Then a couple of years later I came across one of Dr Suzuki’s books – Good News for a Change – when I was stuck in Calary Airport due the Big North American Black Out of 2003 . Remembering how impressed I was with his talk I bought it and read at the airport. And this is not an exaggeration: every page shocked me. The things I didn’t like about politicians, big businesses, society and culture suddenly began to make sense, as did the big outage I was sitting in just then.
Sometimes we have to be pushed over the edge before we see things that are plainly in front of us, because we choose to blind ourselves of the truth as it is simpler. It is a kind of laziness. It is a human trait to be lazy and therefore senseless. I noticed this in Buddhism about ten years ago. And I noticed how everything – like theory – seemed to point towards laziness as the cause of most of our problems.
So this very page – I guess you could say it is on our problems – wouldn’t be here if it was not for Dr Suzuki. So I thank him and I pay homage to him. And I pay homage to all human beings out there who are trying to make this world a better place, whether it is through environmentalism, Buddhism, theory or any other honest means. But remember it is possible to get lazy in any of these things also, just like any human endeavour. It is possible to be misguided no matter how good our intentions are. It is possible to be not honest even in environmentalism, Buddhism or theory. That is something I learned from this great man. You need to be rigourous and with scrutiny, always.
Happy 70th Birthday, Dr Suzuki.