Tale of Two T-Shirts
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Tale of Two T-Shirts

Mary Gilbert, 11/16/02

     When I hear wonderful words I sometimes find a T-shirt and paint the words on it.  Here’s one I heard on Public Radio:  “It’s not just about charismatic megafauna.”

     Now I’m all for whales and pandas but it’s the magnificent, delicate, interdependent living system, earthworms and microbes and all of it, that stops me in my tracks with awe and reverence.

     This reverence led me to Friends Committee on Unity with Nature (FCUN), which I represented at the United Nations where I found another T-shirt inspiration.

     During preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and at the Summit itself I found the actions of the United States appalling.  Over and over again I heard US delegates strike out the words “responsibility” and “accountability.”  They made sure the phrases “Polluter Pays” and “the Precautionary Principle,” accepted 10 years ago at Rio, did not appear.  They tried to deny Universal Human Rights protection to women receiving health care by inserting  “…in accordance with local custom and religion…”  They blocked language specifying that Type II Outcomes (new, UN-backed “partnerships” between financing sources, governments and civil groups to provide “development” through for-profit projects) could exist only within the framework of Type I Outcomes (traditional intergovernmental agreements).  I could go on.  The international anger and frustration were palpable.

     One morning at a preparatory plenary session the presider, thinking his microphone was off, said, “What are we going to do about the United States?”  That’s my other T-shirt.  By afternoon most NGO shirtfronts sported pinned-on signs repeating the question, and next morning printed T-shirts appeared.  When these were immediately banned people covered the last two words with masking tape and wore the shirts anyway.

     So that’s it.  The cosmos is a living whole in which all life forms are equally blessed to participate.  And our government is leading the push toward unlimited wealth for the few and dire poverty for the rest through ruthless, unrestricted exploitation of our sacred , living Earth.

     It’s not just about charismatic megafauna.  What are we going to do about the United States?



The love of liberty is the love of others. The love of power is the love of ourselves. -- William Hazlitt
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