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Old 04-29-2005, 10:48 PM   #331
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trisherina
Everyone who falls in love has an agenda? This IS shocking.
That might give one pause next time someone says, "Jesus loves you!" huh?
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Old 04-30-2005, 07:02 AM   #332
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And I was so looking forward to a relaxing dinner for two in the Churchill Room.
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Old 05-10-2005, 12:21 PM   #333
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truckaphobic crap
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Old 05-10-2005, 06:26 PM   #334
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From this article ^^^^

"Critics suggest that the Bush government is not simply catering to society's most conservative members, but capitalizing on its wider scientific discomfort. With little fear of paying a political price -- particularly in its second and last term in office -- the administration, they allege, feels free to alter a major federal report finding human activity contributes to global warming; to freeze the NIH research budget for the first time in more than five years; or to disregard environmentalists' concerns about drilling for oil in the pristine Arctic wildlife refuge."

It seems pretty clear to me that in the big picture these issues are more about profit than religion. The Bush administration has cynically used religion as a tool to control his electorate into advancing a corporate/conservative coup that has been in the making since the fifties. Furthermore, there is nothing about an AIDS study of the patterns of prostitutes and truckers that Christians who are actively involved in ministry and missions would object to. In fact, many groups who work with AIDS patients and prostitutes would welcome the information if it were only allowed to get to them.
Science and religion are not enemies, and the Bush administration's attempts to paint it that way is their deliberate attempt to mischaracterize the situation.
Think about it. If they succeed in eliminating the taxpayer/government role from scientic research altogether, science will be forced to turn to corporations for their funding. This means that any and all future research at all, any scientific advances that are made whatsoever- will all be completely privatized. And therefore profits will be maximized, of course.

The entire trend is toward global privatization. This is not a religious agenda - yes, they do have an agenda, but that isn't close to being it. The whole Christians vs. science thing is a decoy. We need to wake up and quit barking up the wrong tree. An excellent documentary, called The Corportaion is a great way to educate oneself.
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:17 PM   #335
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I could not agree with you more. Bush's agenda is all about greed and nothing about faith. But why does he have so much support from the country's religious leaders? This is what boggles my mind. That he is so cynical, knowing that invoking his faith will protect him from criticism -- and actually assure him support from the very people who will suffer from his policies -- should be bringing greater outrage from America's Christians than from anyone else.

Perhaps one of you church-going Christians here can explain this. Why aren't your church communities openly and adamantly condemning him? Why isn't there a concerted effort by your church leaders to educate their flocks? And if your pastors and ministers aren't leading a revolt against him, what are you all doing to encourage them to speak out? It seems to me you should all be offended to the point of rioting instead of allowing yourselves to be used as tools for his avarice and prejudices. I mean, if people aren't offended as Americans at his interpretation of the Constitution, I would think they would at least be pissed as Christians at his interpretation of their "Good" Book.

What gives here? I'd really like to know.
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Old 05-17-2005, 01:04 AM   #336
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topcat
really i think it better to abuse your wife in a hetrosexual realationship then be gay as long as you go to church on sunday.
I hope you are joking. That is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. Homosexuals don't make a choice to be homosexual. Do you think that all gay people just woke up one day and thought, "Well, I think that I'll become homosexual. That way I can be ridiculed and possibly even physically attacked, too." ? If you are a Christian, how can you think it is wrong to be homosexual, since everything that God created is just as it should be, right?
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Old 05-17-2005, 01:08 AM   #337
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^^

Jaysus.
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Old 05-17-2005, 01:35 AM   #338
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Well smarty, it's an interesting question to me, when Bush portrays himself as a serious Christian, why don't people burst out laughing? I'm pretty sure no real turn-the-other-cheek/meek-inherit-the-earth/camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle Christian would ever get elected. There seems to be some kind of state of denial going on. [It's much worse for you guys up there, but there will always be politicians down here keeping an eye on what people are getting away with up there.] Or perhaps it's just that no one in the mainstream media, which has to be run on a rather secular basis, is prepared to take on politicians over their claims to religiosity.

Anyhow... God's Politics: An Interview With Jim Wallis
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Old 05-17-2005, 04:17 PM   #339
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smartypants
I could not agree with you more. Bush's agenda is all about greed and nothing about faith. But why does he have so much support from the country's religious leaders? This is what boggles my mind. That he is so cynical, knowing that invoking his faith will protect him from criticism -- and actually assure him support from the very people who will suffer from his policies -- should be bringing greater outrage from America's Christians than from anyone else.

Perhaps one of you church-going Christians here can explain this. Why aren't your church communities openly and adamantly condemning him? Why isn't there a concerted effort by your church leaders to educate their flocks? And if your pastors and ministers aren't leading a revolt against him, what are you all doing to encourage them to speak out? It seems to me you should all be offended to the point of rioting instead of allowing yourselves to be used as tools for his avarice and prejudices. I mean, if people aren't offended as Americans at his interpretation of the Constitution, I would think they would at least be pissed as Christians at his interpretation of their "Good" Book.

What gives here? I'd really like to know.
It really does boggle my mind too. There are Christian groups out there that do protest - but like any other protest in this country, from the news coverage to the fake town meetings to the carefully screened crowds lining parade routes, they are hard to see.
I'd like to try to explain, but I'm still processing it myself. Just so you can evaluate my credibility at your own discretion, I'll give you a bit of my background first (until I've got to go to work). Can't promise I'll stick it out here, but I'll do my best.

When I became a Christian, politically I described myself as radically left. Over the years after having children, actually bringing home a paycheck, buying a house, paying taxes blah blah blah I became merely "liberal." But my conversion experience brought me into a Pentecostal church, and suddenly I was surrounded by extremely conservative Republicans.
That they were so very very conservative is probably, in retrospect, a good thing for me personally. I had been doing way too much drinking, way too many drugs, my values system needed examining - it was a pretty self-destructive lifestyle. I have some extremely ugly, cynical, sarcastic, unkind aspects to my character that I still struggle with - sharp edges that continually need major sanding. All of which to say is that at that time in my life I really did need the straight and narrow for a while to get back on a productive track. Besides that, I found the services to be viscerably exciting, and there was a feeling of a real, physical manifestation of God there that I hadn't gotten as a kid in my staid, Yankee baptist church. It took everything out of the abstract and into a practical, useful faith. Plus, there was a lot of love there.
But my liberal leanings stayed intact as I struggled to resolve the cognitive dissonance I felt between what I was reading in the Bible, and what people were professing to be "the truth" in terms of how we are to treat the poor and the disadvantaged, and the socially marginalized.
It's pretty complicated, how they figure it out. In contrast, liberal Catholic groups will take the Bible at face value and say "Okay, let's see. It says here to take care of the poor. So let's go take take of the poor."

But the very most conservative of the conservative evangelicals have a very funny relationship with money. They see it as God's providence, which of course is appropriate. But they also see the lack of it as God's discipline - or more specifically, a way for them to draw nearer to God out of sheer desperation since they would probably ignore him otherwise. And to draw near to God is to invite the very greatest blessing possible into their lives, where money becomes irrelevant anyway.
Therefore, they feel that the best way they can say, help the homeless, is to feed him the gospel before they feed him the soup. There's a hesitancy there to "interfere" with God's chastening that could possibly lead to a process of humbling and subsequent submission to God to take charge of their lives. It's kind of like they don't want to enable a drug addict with practical help until they see that he's determined to change his entire lifestyle.
Because of that, they pour lots and lots of their money into overseas missions and local Christian - not secular - charities. Their personal lifestyle was not large at all - some lived so frugally, that you would see them wear the same clothes to church week after week. I was always embarrassed to go out to eat with a group of them because they were notoriously bad tippers. They sought to eliminate all forms of prideful spending, and apparently, some saw tipping waitresses working on sub-minimum wage as a way of showing off. Fellowship with each other was the priority. We are talking about some major coupon clippers here.
What I observed, overall, was a spirit of fear surrounding personal finances. Add that to paying taxes into a government that won't let them pray in school anymore (I know, I know - just the messenger here) won't let them put up their creches at Christmas or display their ten commandments - and you've got a recipe for extreme, angry conservatism instead of balance.

I just couldn't embrace this. I do "understand" it though. There are a lot of other things, but I've got to got to work now...have a great day!
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Old 05-17-2005, 05:03 PM   #340
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Interesting explanation. But I guess what it brings to my mind is a reinforcement of the irrational nature of religion. While (as you know) I can't understand blind faith in scripture or the existence of god, lacking any evidentiary basis, or fundmentalists' rejection of science, despite evidentiary findings, I am equally baffled by those who impose or perpetuate human suffering in the name of religion (feeding the gospel before feeding the soup). And what bothers me most is that it's one thing to bring on one's own suffering based on one's irrational beliefs, but another thing entirely when one imposes his irrational beliefs on others. Your example of withholding tips would be laughable if it weren't so revolting.

It certainly begs the question of what the "Christian thing to do" is. What one Christian believes is compassion can be seen by another as cruelty (and vice versa). And one can't reason with any argument over the true definition of compassion when people defend their definitions by playing their Faith card.
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Old 05-24-2005, 07:26 AM   #341
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What is your true definition of compassion? And in a random, godless - and yes, ultimately unfair universe where there is no judgment or final consequence for one's actions, what would you say the significance of compassion has in the world at all? All I can think of in that situation is that compassion serves to make an unbearable life of suffering slightly more bearable.

Sartre said "We give birth astride a grave." If that's all there is to it, why really bother practicing compassion at all when you get right down to it? I believe it was Bertrand Russell, a famous atheist, who concluded that if there is no god to worry about, then yeah, life was pretty much meaningless, but correct me if I've got that wrong.
Given the choice between living a life bereft of meaning, and playing the faith card, I say let's deal.
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Old 05-24-2005, 07:04 PM   #342
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It is a tired saw that lack of faith in an afterlife -- where one is rewarded or punished for his actions in this life -- makes mortality meaningless. My compassion comes from knowing that with only one life to live, one needs to make the absolute best of it -- and create meaning. As far as I'm concerned, there are no second chances, and being responsible for one's fellow mortals right here on earth is of greater importance than hoping against reason that one can make it up later, after death. Love and compassion for one's fellow man is much more genuine when one knows it comes from the heart, and not doled out as insurance against eternal hellfire.

As for "playing the faith card." I think you misunderstood my use of the phrase. By playing the card, I don't mean having faith. I am talking about hindering constructive discussion by excusing one's views, no matter how irrational or dangerous, as a matter of faith. Since religious faith is the only topic that is off-limits to criticize in today's society, it is just too simplistic for people to use their "faith" as a way of justifying their words and deeds, no matter how irrational. It's a trump card in argument that rational humans can't and don't need to play, but one which holds no purchase except to render further discussion futile.
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Old 05-24-2005, 10:40 PM   #343
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smartypants
As for "playing the faith card." I think you misunderstood my use of the phrase. By playing the card, I don't mean having faith. I am talking about hindering constructive discussion by excusing one's views, no matter how irrational or dangerous, as a matter of faith.
I fail to see the distinction here. If one has faith, it motivates one's actions. Actions that can be extremely positive. You're stated the obvious - yes, people without faith can't and won't play that card. Instead, they can always resort to name-calling, and playing the "You're just irrational" card.

As far as hindering constructive discussion goes, do you mean stuff like:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smartypants
So explain this heaven thing. If you like cats, but don't like kitty litter boxes, do your cats in heaven not need to use the litter box? What if someone accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior and goes to heaven, but he's allergic to cats? How do the cats get into heaven if they don't accept Christ?
and
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smartypants
I know a few guys who might find a cat-like ability to "self clean" quite heavenly! Can one achieve this talent just by accepting Jesus, or is it necessary to take yoga classes, too?
?
This is very funny, but I'd hardly call it constructive. Do you really wonder why this country is in the state of hateful polarization that it is?

I can only shrug. Maybe you're just pissed that some idiot somewhere (incorrectly) told you that you were damned to hell - a hell you don't believe in anyway - for being gay, for all I know. There's a reasonable and rational discussion we could have about it, but I'd have to go deep into Bible scripture to show why that person was wrong - and well, you have a problem with that. The fact is, you don't want to really talk reasonably about anything because you might lose your state of victimhood, and then where would you be? I'm really not trying to antagonize you with that comment, but to challenge you to continue to explore the questions you've raised rather than to cut the conversation off at the knees.

[/QUOTE=Smartypants] Since religious faith is the only topic that is off-limits to criticize in today's society, it is just too simplistic for people to use their "faith" as a way of justifying their words and deeds, no matter how irrational. [/quote]
I would just like to point out that I for one am not making this topic off-limits, and welcome your discussion - not because I personally need or expect you to change your opinion one way or the other (I like you just fine the way you are), but because there simply is not enough real dialogue out there, and with your ridicule you're really not helping that situation as far as I can see. At the risk of being too "simplistic" I've made attempts to bridge that gap. You said you "really want to know. " I took you at your word.
If you want change in the world as much as you say you do, then please don't shut down the conversation because your brain is too vast to be able to deal with the primitive belief systems that are making you so uncomfortable.
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Old 05-25-2005, 09:50 PM   #344
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This could be placed in a number of the zf threads, but I'm placing it here because while the inspirational message stands on its own, I think it speaks well to our conversation in this thread regarding actions and morality in the here and now -- about making this life and this world better. For those whose motivations for doing good, being compassionate and committed, and creating change come primarily from the promise or fear of what comes in the next life, Zinn's speech (below) provides an example of how compassion and morality and the need to make this world as good as can be, is a very in-the-now, here-on-earth concept. He makes no supernatural or eternal arguments for being good or working for global betterment.

-- SP


--------
Against Discouragement
By Howard Zinn


[In 1963, historian Howard Zinn was fired from Spelman College, where he was chair of the History Department, because of his civil rights activities. This year, he was invited back to give the commencement address. Here is the text of that speech, given on May 15, 2005.]

I am deeply honored to be invited back to Spelman after forty-two years. I would like to thank the faculty and trustees who voted to invite me, and especially your president, Dr. Beverly Tatum. And it is a special privilege to be here with Diahann Carroll and Virginia Davis Floyd.

But this is your day -- the students graduating today. It's a happy day for you and your families. I know you have your own hopes for the future, so it may be a little presumptuous for me to tell you what hopes I have for you, but they are exactly the same ones that I have for my grandchildren.

My first hope is that you will not be too discouraged by the way the world looks at this moment. It is easy to be discouraged, because our nation is at war -- still another war, war after war -- and our government seems determined to expand its empire even if it costs the lives of tens of thousands of human beings. There is poverty in this country, and homelessness, and people without health care, and crowded classrooms, but our government, which has trillions of dollars to spend, is spending its wealth on war. There are a billion people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East who need clean water and medicine to deal with malaria and tuberculosis and AIDS, but our government, which has thousands of nuclear weapons, is experimenting with even more deadly nuclear weapons. Yes, it is easy to be discouraged by all that.

But let me tell you why, in spite of what I have just described, you must not be discouraged.

I want to remind you that, fifty years ago, racial segregation here in the South was entrenched as tightly as was apartheid in South Africa. The national government, even with liberal presidents like Kennedy and Johnson
in office, was looking the other way while black people were beaten and killed and denied the opportunity to vote. So black people in the South decided they had to do something by themselves. They boycotted and sat in and picketed and demonstrated, and were beaten and jailed, and some were killed, but their cries for freedom were soon heard all over the nation and around the world, and the President and Congress finally did what they had previously failed to do -- enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.

Many people had said: The South will never change. But it did change. It changed because ordinary people organized and took risks and challenged the system and would not give up. That's when democracy came alive.

I want to remind you also that when the war in Vietnam was going on, and young Americans were dying and coming home paralyzed, and our government was bombing the villages of Vietnam -- bombing schools and hospitals and killing ordinary people in huge numbers -- it looked hopeless to try to stop the war. But just as in the Southern movement, people began to protest and soon it caught on. It was a national movement. Soldiers were coming back and denouncing the war, and young people were refusing to join the military, and the war had to end.

The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies. I know you have practical things to do -- to get jobs and get married and have children. You may become prosperous and be considered a success in the way our society defines success, by wealth and standing and prestige. But that is not enough for a good life.

Remember Tolstoy's story, "The Death of Ivan Illych." A man on his deathbed reflects on his life, how he has done everything right, obeyed the rules, become a judge, married, had children, and is looked upon as a success. Yet, in his last hours, he wonders why he feels a failure. After becoming a famous novelist, Tolstoy himself had decided that this was not enough, that he must speak out against the treatment of the Russian peasants, that he must write against war and militarism.

My hope is that whatever you do to make a good life for yourself -- whether you become a teacher, or social worker, or business person, or lawyer, or poet, or scientist -- you will devote part of your life to making this a better world for your children, for all children. My hope is that your
generation will demand an end to war, that your generation will do something that has not yet been done in history and wipe out the national boundaries that separate us from other human beings on this earth.

Recently I saw a photo on the front page of the New York Times which I cannot get out of my mind. It showed ordinary Americans sitting on chairs on the southern border of Arizona, facing Mexico. They were holding guns and they were looking for Mexicans who might be trying to cross the border into the United States. This was horrifying to me -- the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call "civilization," we have carved up what we claim is one world into two hundred artificially created entities we call "nations" and are ready to kill anyone who crosses a boundary.

Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary, so fierce it leads to murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking, cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on, have been useful to those in power, deadly for those out of power.

Here in the United States, we are brought up to believe that our nation is
different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral; that we expand into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.
But if you know some history you know that's not true. If you know some history, you know we massacred Indians on this continent, invaded Mexico, sent armies into Cuba, and the Philippines. We killed huge numbers of people, and we did not bring them democracy or liberty. We did not go into Vietnam to bring democracy; we did not invade Panama to stop the drug trade; we did not invade Afghanistan and Iraq to stop terrorism. Our aims were the aims of all the other empires of world history -- more profit for
corporations, more power for politicians.

The poets and artists among us seem to have a clearer understanding of the disease of nationalism. Perhaps the black poets especially are less enthralled with the virtues of American "liberty" and "democracy," their people having enjoyed so little of it. The great African-American poet Langston Hughes addressed his country as follows:
You really haven't been a virgin for so long.
It's ludicrous to keep up the pretext…
You've slept with all the big powers
In military uniforms,
And you've taken the sweet life
Of all the little brown fellows…

Being one of the world's big vampires,
Why don't you come on out and say so
Like Japan, and England, and France,
And all the other nymphomaniacs of power.
I am a veteran of the Second World War. That was considered a "good war," but I have come to the conclusion that war solves no fundamental problems and only leads to more wars. War poisons the minds of soldiers, leads them to kill and torture, and poisons the soul of the nation.

My hope is that your generation will demand that your children be brought up in a world without war. It we want a world in which the people of all countries are brothers and sisters, if the children all over the world are considered as our children, then war -- in which children are always the greatest casualties -- cannot be accepted as a way of solving problems.

I was on the faculty of Spelman College for seven years, from 1956 to 1963. It was a heartwarming time, because the friends we made in those years have remained our friends all these years. My wife Roslyn and I and our two children lived on campus. Sometimes when we went into town, white people would ask: How is it to be living in the black community? It was hard to explain. But we knew this -- that in downtown Atlanta, we felt as if we were in alien territory, and when we came back to the Spelman campus, we felt that we were at home.



-- cont'd next post --
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Old 05-25-2005, 09:52 PM   #345
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--cont'd from last post --

Those years at Spelman were the most exciting of my life, the most educational certainly. I learned more from my students than they learned from me. Those were the years of the great movement in the South against racial segregation, and I became involved in that in Atlanta, in Albany, Georgia, in Selma, Alabama, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Greenwood and Itta Bena and Jackson. I learned something about democracy: that it does not come from the government, from on high, it comes from people getting together and struggling for justice. I learned about race. I learned
something that any intelligent person realizes at a certain point -- that race is a manufactured thing, an artificial thing, and while race does matter (as Cornel West has written), it only matters because certain people want it to matter, just as nationalism is something artificial. I learned that what really matters is that all of us -- of whatever so-called race and so-called nationality -- are human beings and should cherish one another.

I was lucky to be at Spelman at a time when I could watch a marvelous transformation in my students, who were so polite, so quiet, and then suddenly they were leaving the campus and going into town, and sitting in, and being arrested, and then coming out of jail full of fire and rebellion. You can read all about that in Harry Lefever's book Undaunted by the Fight. One day Marian Wright (now Marian Wright Edelman), who was my student at Spelman, and was one of the first arrested in the Atlanta sit-ins, came to our house on campus to show us a petition she was about to put on the bulletin board of her dormitory. The heading on the petition epitomized the transformation taking place at Spelman College. Marian had written on top of the petition: "Young Ladies Who Can Picket, Please Sign Below."
My hope is that you will not be content just to be successful in the way that our society measures success; that you will not obey the rules, when the rules are unjust; that you will act out the courage that I know is in you. There are wonderful people, black and white, who are models. I don't mean African-Americans like Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell, or Clarence Thomas, who have become servants of the rich and powerful. I mean W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Marian Wright Edelman, and James Baldwin and Josephine Baker and good white folk, too, who defied the Establishment to work for peace and justice.

Another of my students at Spelman, Alice Walker, who, like Marian, has remained our friend all these years, came from a tenant farmer's family in Eatonton, Georgia, and became a famous writer. In one of her first published poems, she wrote:
It is true--
I've always loved
the daring
ones
Like the black young
man
Who tried
to crash
All barriers
at once,
wanted to
swim
At a white
beach (in Alabama)
Nude.
I am not suggesting you go that far, but you can help to break down barriers, of race certainly, but also of nationalism; that you do what you can -- you don't have to do something heroic, just something, to join with millions of others who will just do something, because all of those somethings, at certain points in history, come together, and make the world better.

That marvelous African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston, who wouldn't do what white people wanted her to do, who wouldn't do what black people wanted her to do, who insisted on being herself, said that her mother advised her: Leap for the sun -- you may not reach it, but at least you will get off the ground.

By being here today, you are already standing on your toes, ready to leap. My hope for you is a good life.

Howard Zinn is the author with Anthony Arnove of the just published Voices of a People's History of the United States (Seven Stories Press) and of the international best-selling A People's History of the United States.


Copyright 2005 Howard Zinn
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Last edited by Smartypants : 05-25-2005 at 09:54 PM.
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