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Past Speakers against social injustice and war

The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes:

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You have posted somethings I chose not to click on because you gave fair warning. Mind letting us know what this link is about? Thanks.

You have posted somethings I chose not to click on because you gave fair warning. Mind letting us know what this link is about? Thanks.

This Youtube is simply a tremendously sage young girl speaking to adults at UN Earth Summit about environmental impact of pollution , war, etc. on Earth and human beings, ... her words are astounding. Her name is Severn Suzuki and she made this speech in 1992.



She made me cry, too. Hope you weren't offended by query. Think all videos or links should have some sort of introduction. Thanks for posting.

to be environmental activist. I would be very curious about her opinion on current war situation in MidEast.

No problem, Rain, will intro videos next time. :o)



"Strike Against War
by Helen Keller
American author and public speaker

Speech at Carnegie Hall, New York City, January 5, 1916, under
the auspices of the Women's Peace Party and the Labor Forum.

To begin with, I have a word to say to my good friends, the
editors, and others who are moved to pity me. Some people are
grieved because they imagine I am in the hands of unscrupulous
persons who lead me astray and persuade me to espouse unpoplular
causes and make me the mouthpiece of their propaganda. Now, let
it be understood once and for all that I do not want their pity;
I would not change places withone of them. I know what I am
talking about. My sources of information are as good and reliable
as anybody else's. I have papers and magazines from England,
France, Germany and Austria that I can read myself. Not all the
editors I have met can do that. Quite a number of them have to
take their French and German second hand. No, I will not
disparage the editors. They are an overworked, misunderstood
class. Let them remember, though, that if I cannot see the fire
at the end of their cigarettes, neither can they thread a needle
in the dark. All I ask, gentlemen, is a fair field and no favor.
I have entered the fight against preparedness and against the
economic system under which we live. It is to be a fight to the
finish, and I ask no quarter.

The future of the world rests in the hands of America. The future
of America rests on the backs of 80,000,000 working men and women
and their children. We are facing a grave crisis in our national
life. The few who profit from the labor of the masses want to
organize the workers into an army which will protect the
interests of the capitalists. You are urged to add to the heavy
burdens you already bear the burden of a larger army and many
additional warships. It is in your power to refuse to carry the
artillery and the dread-noughts and to shake off some of the
burdens, too, such as limousines, steam yachts and country
estates. You do not neet to make a great noise about it. With the
silence and dignity of creators you can end wars and the system
of selfishness and exploitation that causes wars. All you need to
do to bring about this stupendous revolution is to straighten up
and fold your arms.

We are not preparing to defend our country. Even if we were as
helpless as Congressman Gardner says we are, we have no enemies
foolhardy enough to attempt to invade the United States. The talk
about attack from Germany and Japan is absurd. Germany has its
hands full and will be busy with its own affairs for some
generations after the European war is over.

With full control of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean
Sea, the allies failed to land enough men to defeat the Turks at
Gallipoli; and then they failed again to land an army at Salonica
in time to check the Bulgarian invasion of Serbia. The conquest
of America by water is a nightmare confined exclusively to
ignorant persons and members of the Navy League.

Yet, everywhere, we hear fear advanced as argument for armament.
It reminds me of a fable I read. A certain man found a horseshoe.
His neighbor began to weep and wail because, as he justly pointed
out, the man who found the horseshoe might someday find a horse.
Having found the shoe, he might shoe him. The neighbor's child
might some day go so near the horse's hells as to be kicked, and
die. Undoubtedly the two families would quarrel and fight, and
several valuable lives would be lost through the finding of the
horseshoe. You know the last war we had we quite accidentally
picked up some islands in the Pacific Ocean which may some day be
the cause of a quarrel between ourselves and Japan. I'd rather
drop those islands right now and foret about them than go to war
to keep them. Wouldn't you?

Congress is not preparing to defend the people of the United
States. It is planning to protect the capital of American
speculators and investors in Mexico, South America, China, and
teh Philippine Islands. Incidentally this preparation will
benefit the manufacturers of munitions and war machines.

Until recently there were uses in the United States for the money
taken from the workers. But American labor is exploited almost to
the limit now, and our national resources have all been
appropriated. Still the profits keep piling up new capital. Our
flourishing industry in implements of murder is filling the
vaults of New York's banks with gold. And a dollar that is not
being used to make a slave of some human being is not fulfilling
its purpose in the capitalistic scheme. That dollar must be
invested in South America, Mexico, China, or the Philippines.

It was no accident that the Navy League came into prominence at
the same time that the National City Bank of New York established
a branch in Buenos Aires. It is not a mere coincidence that six
business associates of J.P. Morgan are officials of defense
leagues. And chance did not dictate that Mayor Mitchel chould
appoint to his Committee of Safety a thousand men that represent
a fifth of the wealth of the United States. These men want their
foreign investments protected.

Every modern war has had its root in exploitation. The Civil War
was fought to decide whether to slaveholders of the South or the
capitalists of the North should exploit the West. The
Spanish-American War decided that the United States should
exploit Cuba and the Philippines. The South African War decided
that the British should exploit the diamond mines. The
Russo-Japanese War decided that Japan should exploit Korea. The
present war is to decide who shall exploit the Balkans, Turkey,
Persia, Egypt, India, China, Africa. And we are whetting our
sword to scare the victors into sharing the spoils with us. Now,
the workers are not interested in the spoils; they will not get
any of them anyway.

The preparedness propagandists have still another object, and a
very important one. They want to give the people something to
think about besides their won unhappy condition. They know the
cost of living is high, wages are low, employment is uncertain
and will be much more so when the European call for munitions
stops. No matter how hard and incessantly the people work, they
often cannot afford the comforts of life; many cannot obtain the

Every few days we are given a new war scare to lend realism to
their propaganda. They have had us on the verge of war over the
Lusitania, the Gulflight, the Ancona, and now they want the
workingmen to become excited over the sinking of the Persia. The
workingman has no interest in any of these ships. The Germans
might sink every vessel on the Atlantic Ocean and the
Mediterranean Sea, and kill Americans with every one--the
American workingman would still have no reason to go to war.

All the machinery of the system has been set in motion. Above the
complaint and din of the protest from the workers is heard the
voice of authority.

"Friends," it says, "fellow workmen, patriots; your country is in
danger! There are foes on all sides of us. There is nothing
between us and our enemies except the Pacific Ocean and the
Atlantic Ocean. Look at what has happened to Belgium. Consider
the fate of Serbia. Will you murmur about low wages when your
country, your very liberties, are in jeopardy? What are the
miseries you endure compared to the humiliation of having a
victorious German army sail up the East River? Quit your whining,
get busy and prepare to defend your firesides and your flag. Get
an army, get a navy; be ready to meet the invaders like the
loyal-hearted freemen you are."

Will the workers walk into this trap? Will they be fooled again?
I am afraid so. The people have always been amenable to oratory
of this sort. The workers know they have no enemies except their
masters. They know that their citizenship papers are no warrant
for the safety of themselves or their wives and children. They
know that honest sweat, persistent toil and years of struggle
bring them nothing worth holding on to, worth fighting for. Yet,
deep down in their foolish hearts they believe they have a
country. Oh blind vanity of slaves!

The clever ones, up in the high places know how childish and
silly the workers are. They know that if the government dresses
them up in khaki and gives them a rifle and starts them off with
a brass band and waving banners, they will go forth to fight
valiantly for their own enemies. They are taught that brave men
die for their country's honor. What a price to pay for an
abstraction- -the lives of millions of young men; other millions
crippled and blinded for life; existence made hideous for still
more millions of human being; the achievement and inheritance of
generations swept away in a moment--and nobody better off for all
the misery! This terrible sacrifice would be comprehensible if
the thing you die for and call country fed, clothed, housed and
warmed you, educated and cherished your children. I thinkthe
workers are the most unselfish of the children of men; they toil
and live and die for other people's country, other people's
sentiments, other people's liberties and other people's
happiness! The workers have no liberties of their own; they are
not free when they are compelled to work twelve or ten or eight
hours a day. they are not free when they are ill paid for their
exhausting toil. They are not free when their children must labor
in mines, mills and factories or starve, and when their women may
be driven by poverty to lives of shame. They are not free when
they are clubbed and imprisoned because they go on strike for a
raise of wages and for the elemental justice that is their right
as human beings.

We are not free unless the men who frame and execute the laws
represent the interests of the lives of the people and no other
interest. The ballot does not make a free man out of a wage
slave. there has never existed a truly free and democratic nation
in the world. From time immemorial men have followed with blind
loyalty the strong men who had the power of money and of armies.
Even while battlefields were piled high with their own dead they
have tilled the lands of the rulers and have been robbed of the
fruits of their labor. They have built palaces and pyramids,
temples and cathedrals that held no real shrine of liberty.

As civilization has grown more complex the workers have become
more and more enslaved, until today they are little more than
parts of the machines they operate. Daily they face the dangers
of railroad, bridge, skyscraper, frieght train, stokehold,
stockyard, lumber raft and min. Panting and training at the
docks, on the railroads and underground and on the seas, they
move the traffic and pass from land to land the precious
commodities that make it possible for us to live. And what is
their reward? A scanty wage, often poverty, rents, taxes,
tributes and war indemnities.

The kind of preparedness the workers want is reorganization and
reconstruction of their whole life, such as has never been
attempted by statesmen or governments. The Germans found out
years ago that they could not raise good soldiers in the slums so
they abolished the slums. They saw to it that all the people had
at least a few of the essentials of civilization- -decent lodging,
clean streets, wholesome if scanty food, proper medical care and
proper safeguards for the workers in their ocupations. That is
only a small part of what should be done, but what wonders that
one step toward the right sort of preparedness has wrought for
Germany! For eighteen months it has kept itself free from
invasion while carrying on an extended war of conquest, and its
armies are still pressing on with unabated vigor. It is your
business to force these reforms on the Administration. Let there
be no more talk about what a government can or cannot do. All
these theings have been done by all the belligerent nations in
the hurly-burly of war. Every fundamental industry has been
managed better by the governments than by private corporations.

It is your duty to insist upon still more radical measure. It is
your business to see that no child is employed in an industrial
establishment or mine or store, and that no worker in needlessly
exposed to accident or disease. It is your business to make them
give you clean cities, free from smoke, dirt and congestion. It
is your business to make them pay you a living wage. It is your
business to see that this kind of preparedness is carried into
every department on the nation, until everyone has a chance to be
well born, well nourished, rightly educated, intelligent and
serviceable to the country at all times.

Strike against all ordinances and laws and institutions that
continue the slaughter of peace and the butcheries of war. Srike
against war, for without you no battles can be fought. Strike
against manufacturing scrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools
of murder. Strike against preparedness that means death and
misery to millions of human being. Be not dumb, obedient slaves
in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction.

Copyright information: Gifts of Speech believes this speech is in
the public domain. It has also been published in Helen Keller:
Her Socialist Years (International Publishers, 1967)."

I didn't know. Wish I was as well educated as she was (and many here). As much as I like to think I haven't bought into conventional wisdom (does that mean convenient?) I fail miserably. Thanks for post.

Helen Keller was one of my favorite childhood heroines when she was a girl growing up, I had no idea her adult insight into the contemporary worldliness of her era was so sharp and keen.



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