Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Ten Suggestions

I had been suffering from the flu for almost a week. It wasn't the kind of flu that you work through. Every fiber in my musculature was acting like an old Buick with no oil. On the third night , as I alternated between being my own private sweat lodge and falling into a shaking, shivering fetal form in the damp sheets minutes later, I reached down to get the down comforter, but I was too stiff to even reach the foot of the bed.

Dutifully, I pounded my Echinacea with the Goldenseal. (Don't ask me why) Still, I mostly just made cow noises.

After 4 days, I began to rebound a little. The 4 Ibufrofens every eight hours were beginning to induce a state that was a rough approximation of life on earth as I had remembered it. Encouraged, I decided to take a walk. The sun was warm, the wind was out of the north, but it really wasn't that cold for early February.

"Where you going?" asked Janelle.


I walked over to the pit next door to my house where an army of front end loaders, all terrain fork lifts, and dirt movers had colluded over the last few weeks to torture me and the entire neighborhood with their OSHA mandated back up beepers. I may have even put some duct tape in my coat pocket to muffle them.

I looked deep into the forty foot pit, and saw a hole that seemed new to me. Suddenly, the dirt around me started moving towards the hole as if it was late for work. I grabbed the tree branches behind me, but they broke off in my hands.

As I careened towards the blackness, I felt the duct tape begin to bruise my side as I slid, grabbing the dirt and rocks that were falling at roughly the same pace as I was.

When we all hit the hole, I remember a sense of falling, but yet there was a sense of being in space, almost like the zero gravity we see when the astronauts show off for the cameras on their missions.

Then, with a light "foof", I landed. The dust was thick. I could see a tiny circular hole above me. A small ray of light found its way down to my dusty plight. It was just enough light to see though, especially as the dust began to settle. I coughed and checked myself out. My duct tape was still in my coat pocket.

As I got my bearings, I could see that I was sitting on a giant pile of dirt and sand in a humongous cavern. The walls were yellow, almost gold. Then I saw him. (or her)

"Max", the voice said in one of those Hollywood voices, "Get down here"

Slowly I made my way down the mound. I felt like an ant.

The Man had wings and a shield and a sword and sorry, he glowed a little too. He was way gay looking though.

"Max" take this scroll to the leaders of the world.

"What's it say?"

"Call it the 10 suggestions"

"Suggestions for what?

"How to survive"

"I thought you guys were more into commandments"

"We gave up on that approach", said the sheman.

"Can I open it?"


"You won't give me a hint?"


The first one is

We strongly suggest that you give up all violence"

"Ghandi and Jesus already suggested that.

What's the next one?"

"We strongly suggest that you learn to get along"

"I had to learn that in kindergarden.

What's next?"

"We strongly suggest that you stop burning things."

"But if we don't burn things, we won't have any power."

"Burning things reduces your power.

Do what we do."


"Learn to live on light."

"What else?"

"That's enough, go now."

I grabbed the scroll and dutifully started up the mound. As I placed one foot in front of the other, the sand rolled over it. With each step, I gained no ground. I looked up at the tiny hole of light above me. I began to step faster. I wondered if my duct tape would help.

It didn't.

With each step I grew more and more weary. I began to yell, up into the hole, Anyone there? Anyone there? I yelled louder and louder and finally I heard:

"Max...Max, come to sweetie."

The hole suddenly grew larger, and then I saw Janelle and her gleaming blue eyes.

"You've been delirious for a day sweetie."

I decided not to ask her where the scroll was.

Must be with the duct tape.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grown ups- what you do to the environment makes me cry at night.

Address to the Plenary Session, Earth Summit, Rio Centro, Brazil 1992

Hello, I'm Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O. - The Environmental Children's organisation.
We are a group of twelve and thirteen-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference: Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come six thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.
Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.

I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard. I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.

I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don't know what chemicals are in it.

I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going exinct every day - vanishing forever.
In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterfilies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.

Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age? All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions.

I'm only a child and I don't have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you!
You don't know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You don't know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream. You don't know how to bring back an animal now extinct. And you can't bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert. If you don't know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!

Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organisers, reporters or poiticians - but really you are mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, aunts and uncles - and all of you are somebody's child.

I'm only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil - borders and governments will never change that.
I'm only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal. In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel.

In my country, we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and htrow away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to lose some of our wealth, afraid to share.
In Canada, we live the privileged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter - we have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets.

Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with some children living on the streets. And this is what one child told us: "I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicine, shelter and love and affection."

If a child on the street who has nothing, is willing to share, why are we who have everyting still so greedy? I can't stop thinking that these children are my age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born, that I could be one of those children living in the Favellas of Rio; I could be a child starving in Somalia; a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.
I'm only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this earth would be!

At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us to behave in the world. You teach us:

* not to fight with others,
* to work things out,
* to respect others,
* to clean up our mess,
* not to hurt other creatures
* to share - not be greedy

Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?

Do not forget why you're attending these conferences, who you're doing this for
- we are your own children.

You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying "everyting's going to be alright', "we're doing the best we can" and "it's not the end of the world".
But I don't think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says "You are what you do, not what you say."

Well, what you do makes me cry at night. you grown ups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words.

Thank you for listening.

posted by dan

8:35 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

I had to make several corrections in the story late on Wed.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment Dan.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderful. What I woulda suggested if I'd had wings etc. I do it even though I don't and keep suggesting it.

6:58 AM  

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