To Be Hopeful for Howard

January 28, 2010

I read Howard Zinn‘s The People’s History of the United States the year I quit the Youth Shelter, when everything in my life was all topsy-turvy and I was dealing with it by recording music down in the basement at Chateau Drink More and reading books I borrowed from Ned and Jim. After I finished the The History, I thought, wow, this Zinn guy is brilliant. How come I haven’t heard of him before? And I felt an urgent need to recommend him and his book to anyone who would listen.

When I’m feeling cynical, like I just was tonight, I like to remind myself that even in my relatively short life I have seen things change on an epic scale – the passage of the civil rights and the dismantling of apartheid – and Howard Zinn played a part in that. And when I think about that I am reminded that I won’t get the chance to play even the tiniest of parts in working for change now, if I give into the lure of cynicism.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. – Howard Zinn


August sunset from 28th street

January 21, 2010

August sunset from 28th street

Originally uploaded by proteanme

I took a lot of pictures of the sky this year in 2009.

No Comments »