River Phoenix was not a person to be forgotten. His name, just as unique as his life, calls attention. But it would not be his name alone that would be remembered.
It is his pure talent and untouched potential that left people asking why. It is his unconditional Love for all forms of life that people would miss. It is his simplicity and his complexity; his humanity that left the World grieving.
River Phoenix was a dedicated animal rights, environmental and political activist. He was a prominent spokesperson for PETA and won their Humanitarian Award in 1992 for his fund-raising efforts.
This year, 1990, the year I leave my teenage years behind, I realize nothing else matters but this : We must heal our planet if we’re to survive. Because my parents are so closely connected with nature and share the reality that Planet Earth is our home, I have always been conscious that we need to care for the earth as the living, breathing, supporting, feeding, nurturing home it is for us.
As a young person, there were always other threats that seemed much greater to me along the way – nuclear war, the many hand-to-hand wars all over the planet, famine, poverty, crime, drugs, political prisoners, and an overall lack of compassion for every living thing. And closer to home, each of us has our own struggles with growing up.
Phoenix was a lifelong vegan. His first girlfriend Martha Plimpton recalled: ‘Once when we were fifteen, River and I went out for a fancy dinner in Manhattan, and I ordered soft-shell crabs.
He left the restaurant and walked around on Park Avenue, crying. I went out and he said, I love you so much, why? … He had such pain that I was eating an animal, that he had not impressed on me what was right.’
He financially aided a great many environmental and humanitarian organizations, and bought 800 acres (320 ha) of endangered rainforest in Costa Rica.
As well as giving speeches at rallies for various groups, he and his band often played environmental benefits for well-known charities as well as local ones in the Gainesville, Florida area.
River made such a big impression during his life on Earth. He found his voice and found his place. And even River, who had the whole World at his fingertips to listen, felt deep frustration that no one heard.
What is it going to take? Chernobyl wasn’t enough. Exxon Valdez wasn’t enough. A bloody war over oil wasn’t enough. If River’s passing opens our global heart, then I say, thanks dear, beloved son, for yet another gift to all of us.
A mother’s note on her son’s life and death