I received a very nice email from someone with whom I worked on the Obama campaign. We had a pretty great day together about a year ago. She’s got two fantastic quotations at the bottom of her email which are definitely worth sharing in the context of [How to] Stay Human.
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is tied up with mine, then let us work together.
Sometimes you have to act as if acting will make a difference, even when you can’t prove that it will.
Years ago, we lifted the first line of this poem by Diane DiPrima for a play called Pursuit of Happiness. It’s been with us ever since.
Revolutionary Letter #1
I have just realized that the stakes are myself
I have no other
ransom money, nothing to break or barter but my life
my spirit measured out, in bits, spread over
the roulette table, I recoup what I can
nothing else to shove under the nose of the maitre de jeu
nothing to thrust out the window, no white flag
this flesh all I have to offer, to make the play with
this immediate head, what it comes up with, my move
as we slither over this go board, stepping always
(we hope) between the lines
Americans have tended to watch with a remarkable (I think frightening) degree of passivity as crises of all sorts have gripped the country and sent millions of lives into tailspins. Where people once might have deluged their elected representatives with complaints, joined unions, resisted mass firings, confronted their employers with serious demands, marched for social justice and created brand new civic organizations to fight for the things they believed in, the tendency now is to assume that there is little or nothing ordinary individuals can do about the conditions that plague them.
This is so wrong. It is the kind of thinking that would have stopped the civil rights movement in its tracks, that would have kept women in the kitchen or the steno pool, that would have prevented labor unions from forcing open the doors that led to the creation of a vast middle class.
This passivity and sense of helplessness most likely stems from the refusal of so many Americans over the past few decades to acknowledge any sense of personal responsibility for the policies and choices that have led the country into such a dismal state of affairs, and to turn their backs on any real obligation to help others who were struggling.
Those chickens have come home to roost. Being an American has become a spectator sport. Most Americans watch the news the way you’d watch a ballgame, or a long-running television series, believing that they have no more control over important real-life events than a viewer would have over a coach’s strategy or a script for “Law & Order.”
Change is hard. Better wear a helmet.
Man, that was sweet.
Dealing with the global morning after.
Every generation has a challenge and this is ours.
30 slow difficult ways to save the world.
Because we all want to do better.
I wish you way more than luck.
A tale of two cities: Doha and Dalian.
It’s harder than you think.
A whole new way of thinking about what we want and what we need.
How would you like the world to be?
Every life is an emergency.
We are undone by one another. And if we’re not. We’re missing something.
A small sample from the Stay Human script.
Though it’s not always easy to see it as we go about our days, our current way of life is unsustainable, and that which is not sustainable does not continue.
We are all of us stuck here and now, caught between the harsh realities of economic globalization and the all-enduring rock-video aesthetic.
We’re using up the planet and our future one person, one day, one decision at a time.
I for one do not believe in this world of sorrow. Do you?
We need a new model, a complete and utter paradigm shift, and we need to create it within our lifetimes.
Most everyone studying the issue agrees that we have about 30 years to make profound changes or we will have committed to ecological bankruptcy.
30 years. Sorry, friends. That doesn’t mean our kids will do it. That means it has to be us.
It has to be us and it has to be now.
Every generation has a challenge.
And this is ours.
I have just realized that the stakes are myself.
This picture is from here and it’s tremendously frightening to me. How bout you?
You may have noticed that we don’t sell bottled water at our shows. That’s not an accident or a co-incidence.
Giving up 1 bottle of imported water means using up one less liter of fossil fuel and emitting 1.2 pounds less of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
Will you commit to a week without plastic water bottles? A month? A year?