||On Getting Along
By Howard Zinn
You ask how I manage to stay involved and remain seemingly happy and adjusted
to this awful world where the efforts of caring people pale in comparison
to those who have power?
It's easy. First, don't let "those who have power" intimidate you. No matter
how much power they have they cannot prevent you from living your life, speaking
your mind, thinking independently, having relationships with people as you
like. (Read Emma Goldman's autobiography LIVING MY LIFE. Harassed, even
imprisoned by authority, she insisted on living her life, speaking out, however
she felt like.
Second, find people to be with who have your values, your commitments, but
who also have a sense of humor. That combination is a necessity!
Third (notice how precise is my advice that I can confidently number it,
the way scientists number things), understand that the major media will not
tell you of all the acts of resistance taking place every day in the society,
the strikes, the protests, the individual acts of courage in the face of
authority. Look around (and you will certainly find it) for the evidence
of these unreported acts. And for the little you find, extrapolate from that
and assume there must be a thousand times as much as what you've found.
Fourth. Note that throughout history people have felt powerless before authority,
but that at certain times these powerless people, by organizing, acting,
risking, persisting, have created enough power to change the world around
them, even if a little. That is the history of the labor movement, of the
women's movement, of the anti-Vietnam war movement, the disabled persons
movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the movement of black people in the
Fifth: Remember, that those who have power, and who seem invulnerable are
in fact quite vulnerable, that their power depends on the obedience of others,
and when those others begin withholding that obedience, begin defying authority,
that power at the top turns out to be very fragile. Generals become powerless
when their soldiers refuse to fight, industriaists become powerless when
their workers leave the jobs or occupy the factories.
Sixth: When we forget the fragility of that power in top we become astounded
when it crumbles in the face of rebellion. We have had many such surprises
in our time, both in the United States and in other countries.
Seventh: Don't look for a moment of total triumph. See it as an ongoing struggle,
with victories and defeats, but in the long run the consciousness of people
growing. So you need patience, persistence, and need to understand that even
when you don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that you have
been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile.
Okay, seven pieces of profound advice should be enough.
Global Network Against
Weapons & Nuclear
Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(352) 871-7554 (Cell phone)