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A Prayer for Johannesburg
Published on Tuesday, August 27, 2002 by
A Prayer for Johannesburg
by Robert C. Hinkley and John Karvel

Mother Earth, we thank you for your wisdom in bringing our wisest leaders together in South Africa to discuss the problems we have wrought upon you and each other.

We pray you will guide them to find solutions to these problems so that the planet with which you provide us nuture may be sustained.

We thank you for instilling in each of us the knowledge that our tenure as your stewards will last only as long as we put your interest above individual private interests.

We pray that you will allow the powerful among us to see we cannot survive as a species as long as they believe the purpose of the weak is to serve the interests of the strong.

We thank you for the Earth Summit ten years ago where you allowed us first to say with a global voice that the single-minded pursuit of national economic interests often has devastating transnational environmental effects.

We pray you will allow our leaders in Johannesburg to understand the lesson you taught us with Kyoto--that sustainability is unlikely to be achieved through international agreements that try to regulate indirectly corporate pursuers of self-interest which are nearly impossible to regulate directly.

We pray that you will fill our leaders with courage to adopt a new strategy for controlling the menace we have loosed upon you and ourselves.

We pray they will see that the pursuit of corporate profit should no longer come at the expense of the environment, human rights, the public health or safety, the dignity of employees or the welfare of our communities and they will agree to return to their homelands and change their laws accordingly.

Robert C. Hinkley is a corporate lawyer and former partner in the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He resides in Brooklin, Maine. His e-mail address is

John Karvel is a coordinator of a grassroots organization seeking to enact a Code for Corporate Responsibility (C4CR.ORG) in Minnesota. He can be reached at


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