Remembering Howard Zinn on the Anniversary of His Death and Germinating the Seeds of Truth
“You can’t be neutral on a moving train,” Howard Zinn said. Although he died over a year ago (January 27, 2010), no statement could be more timely considering the upheaval in Egypt.
Perhaps we are so vicariously thrilled by people literally taking democracy into their hands and putting their lives on the line – as we were with the suppressed “Green Revolution” in Iran – because we have largely abandoned large-scale protests in the US. Other nations are doing the heavy lifting of democracy, and it excites us with the possibility that it could happen here, that we could stand up to the plutocracy and the status quo elites.
Zinn said that he would like to be remembered,
for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality … for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points in history, they have used it. Black people in the South used it. People in the women’s movement used it. People in the anti-war movement used it. People in other countries who have overthrown tyrannies have used it.
He was an inveterate optimist that the spark of good in all of us can ignite a powerful force that can bring down the rule of the privileged few.
Zinn was also on the advisory board of Truthout, which embodies his view that:
There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness – embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio and television. This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas.
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