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John McConnell - orator and essayist
John McConnell is a great orator, generally speaking extemporaneously from the message that beat in his heart. He proclaimed his messages to the public, to students and educators, to civic leaders, to senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress, to world leaders and Nobel Peace Laureates, and to diplomats and secretary-generals of the United Nations. John McConnell penned numerous essays that contained his deep ecological and spiritual convictions. Whether spoken or written, his words instilled fervor, introspection and action among those who heard or read them.
Our planet … is a mysterious orb of mind and spirit, a world of hope and love - but, unfortunately, a world of clashing thoughts and feelings. … If our world is to survive and find its destiny, new ways of achieving harmony must be found. - John McConnell, "Minute for Peace" speech to National Education Association, 29 June 1965
The planet belongs to us - all of us. We have spiritual and material rights and responsibilities during our journey here. - Definition of World Equality, Inc., an organization created by John McConnell in 1969
This is for young and old who care about the Earth, its air, water, land and living things. We must change the attitudes and actions now destroying the Earth into those that will heal and build our planet. - John McConnell, speech, 1974
Flatland vision is caused by closing one eye - the eye of the heart. If we will open it and look at the whole world - with full vision - we will see new depths of love and new promises of peace. - John McConnell, "Flatland" essay, 1975
Who 'owns' the sea? You do! And your property is being vandalized, stolen, destroyed. What are you doing about it? - John McConnell, "Who Owns the Sea?" speech, 1975
John McConnell at the United Nations
John McConnell was active throughout his life, but his greatest accomplishments occurred in association with the United Nations. His influence there began in the late 1960s with Secretary-General U Thant with whom he often shared conversation. His influence continued into the 1970's with the next Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. Secretaries-General Thant and Waldheim rang the Peace Bell at the United Nations for the Earth Day celebrations at the UN in 1971 and 1972, marking the first and second anniversaries of the original Earth Day on 21 March 1970. In 1971, Waldheim's ringing of the Peace Bell coincided with a special, 12-hour, commercial-free environmental broadcast, for which John was responsible, on television flagship station WOR-TV in New York and dozens of other affiliated stations around the nation. Thanks to the work of the Earth Society Foundation, a non-governmental organization that John founded with the help of anthropologist Margaret Mead in 1976, those Earth Day celebrations on the vernal equinox have continued every year since. John's friends and associates described him as "audacious, yet respectful" in his approach to the UN's great leaders. Under-Secretary-General Robert Miller wrote, "John McConnell was well known at the United Nations as someone courageous with ideas, a diplomat for Earth. And he never gave up." While not wealthy and working as a self-employed advocate of Earth, John McConnell still found the means, often through donations from those who believed in his enthusiasm and message, to attend some of the UN's greatest international conferences in Stockholm, Geneva, Vienna and Rio de Janeiro.
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