I didn’t cry during David Suzuki’s, Suzuki Speaks, video, but I was motivated and confused during different parts of it. Let’s start with the confused.
Suzuki takes a magic time travel back approx 480 billion years, but immediately dies because their is not yet breathable air. He repeats this time travel several times, and each voyage we learn that there is no water, then no soil, then no plants, and so on are his time travel problems. How these vital natural elements came about and built upon one another he doesn’t address. For a scientist that adheres to evolution, he sure made the whole idea seem quite impossible. He may have approached that differently.
Suzuki also rages against the machine, explaining how the economy and growth are the giant whip-wielding slave driver that is pushing us towards the apocalypse. He made several important points that hit home with me. For instance, I believe focusing solely on the economy at the expense of the social welfare of marginalized groups or our fragile environment is detrimental to all of us. However, issues are rarely black and white, and the slave-imagery and simplified view of “the economy” doesn’t give viewers an ability to understand opposing arguments and formulate their own.
Now we can all relate to little Suzuki recalling his magic places growing up, but in a video that is displayed as scientific and fact-driven, it felt kind of like a cheap emotional grab to gain support. Everyone has places they frequent and spaces that are special to them. To insinuate that we all need or deserve our own private marsh to have a worthwhile childhood discounts the many individual and shared spaces that are not ecological in nature that have meant the world to people.
My favourite part of the movie was Suzuki’s daughter who didn’t pull any punches when addressing UN delegates. Essentially she said that waiting for the next generation to make positive changes was an inadequate excuse and how are kids supposed to do any better than adults if the older generation are terrible role models. Her points were at the core of why I want to teach. I want students to develop a sense of responsibility and agency in regards to the world around them, but I also want to consistently set a good example in how I live my life.
Was this my favourite video? Definitely not. I think he jumped between science, opinion, and emotion in presenting his views. I agreed with many things he said, but not the most enjoyable watch.