'But James, there are many activists in Washington DC that you could work with and help. You really should get out and you need to try and find them. There are still some people in town from the Occupy movement for example. You really should try. You really should open your eyes....'
My reply, in an email, an hour or so later. (It took me awhile after this conversation to adjust to the fact that this young professional who has worked with me in a social work capacity for several years now thanks I am such a functioning idiot, quite literally. And, of course, I may be.):
There may be many, even many many, activists, worthy of the name in DC. Or, I may be correct, that there are 1, maybe two, maybe three worthy the name.
Without question your view is the widely held one and mine held almost by none. But one who has done immense scholarly work on this subject, chris Hedges, who to my eyes is the most important intellectual writing in the world today, his second most recent book, which I finished about a month ago now, is entitled death of the liberal class. I recommend it, and his most recent book, the wages of rebellion, that is, the virtually ultimate price that the true activists have to pay, I recommend those books above the dozens or hundreds of others that I value. In his book, the death of a little class, he documents that beginning particularly with Woodrow Wilson in the early 19 Hundred's the right wing began a campaign that by the late sixties had pretty well located and exterminated those who were worthy of the name activists by any historical measure. And they thereby implemented systems that have pretty well prevented all but one in a million potential True activists from emerging ever since.
This has been my view, to my increasing day by day horror, each day that I have been in DC as an activist for the last 8 years or so. And every week I get More data points that suggest it's worse than I thought it was the week before. What was amazing to me was that in benefiting from the scholarship that hedges shared it was so much worse, so much more systematic, and started so much earlier than I had realized.
In one of the Star Wars movies in an instant, in a coordinated instant throughout the galaxy all but one or two of the Jedi are wiped out. That's basically what has happened and those that consider themselves activists, my brothers and sisters all, today, are the faintest ineffectual shadows of what true activists, those who have the chance of working miraculous change in society, consist of. And even worse, they want not to know how far they are from being what they need. And it is so sad, the future doesn't really matter for old folks like me, but the young ones, don't even want to know what it would take to give themselves a future. They profoundly lack the courage to look in the mirror, to look at history, to realize that they are not measuring up, to give themselves the chance to see that they could measure up if they chose to apply themselves. That may be the saddest thing of all.
I love to try and be, with every breath, and/or to become, one of those one in a million, and try to inspire, support, enable... those who exist or are dying to become.
One of the clear leaders of the Occupy movement from McPherson Square was in town after a year or so two weeks ago. He and I had spent much time together in and around McPherson Square . He looked me up and we shared for about an hour and a half. As he was leaving he looked me in the eye and he said, in my whole life, you are my North Star.
The above was inspired by our brief conversation today. It is certainly not something to which I want or need a reply. FYI.
Enjoy your weekend. James