03 October 2010

A Cause for Celebrity

I should be going to bed, it's late but I can't. My mind won't let me. I'm feeling a bit distraught at the moment...let me explain.

I love David Suzuki. He's been an inspiration to me for decades. In the early nineties I became a fan when I saw him on the bus to UBC when I was going to class. I thought "Yep, he's legit. Walking the talk." Tonight I had a chance to hear him talk at Dalhousie. I brought my daughter and his book to sign. I was so excited and thrilled that my young daughter would have a chance to hear this Canadian icon.

He was great...passionate, articulate, informative and wise. But I left the auditorium feeling sad. He's just a man, in his 70's now, probably slowing down a bit...not that you could tell from his talk. He's just a man.

He's dedicated his life to a cause that I am greatly concerned about and I fully support him and his Foundation. But...he's just a man.

I came home and turned on the TV for a sec to watch the news. The Abbey Lane show was on and to my great pleasure, the Killers were performing. My lucky day! Not so much. I watched them and that same feeling of sadness came over me. They're just a band, a bunch of guys playing instruments. Just ordinary people.

It dawned on me that I'm saddened by celebrity. What harm is being done by celebrity? We know the media attention that can come from it. People may listen more, give more money, buy more books. But then what? Does my sincere admiration for Suzuki lessen my admiration for others who are not celebrities. Would I recognize a photo of David Orr, Thomas Berry, Paul Hawken, Lester Brown or E.O. Wilson? No, of course not. But I admire them and their words. Does the fact that Suzuki is a celebrity diminish my admiration for him after seeing him in the flesh? Yes, unfortunately, it does.

Why? It might be because he's getting older now and we'll be looking out for the next Suzuki, the next leader to take us into the future. But there can't be another Suzuki can there? We can't depend on these leaders to lead us. We need to lead ourselves and learn from the wisdom of others who have taken the time to dedicate their lives for the betterment of all of us, not for celebrity status.

No, I am not saying that Suzuki sought fame, not at all. What I am saying is that celebrity has a dirty little tinge to it, it rubs the shine off the true brilliance of the person.

No one will be the next Suzuki so where does that leave us? Where are we without our reliable, constant and true leaders who will tell us what we need to know and believe?

Suzuki talked about our fatalistic inclination to worship the economy and how dangerous it is to put economy before ecology. Truer words were never spoken. But, we idolize him...he's our beacon, our voice, our leader. When he is gone, so will be his light and I fear we will be soon groping around in the dark.

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