Howard Zinn rightly asserts that the problem in this country isn’t civil disobedience but civil obedience – that having been put in the traces we bow our head like oxen and throw our shoulders into hauling a load of inequities around.
I am singularly impressed with Zinn, his integrity, eloquence, and advocacy for the rights of people, so much so if I were to meet him I might echo that beer commercial(?) line of “I love you man”.
Zinn comes across as a man possessing a self deprecating humor, a humility that doesn’t allow him to pat himself on the back – a refreshing quality. But also a man of prodigious insight and a common sense wisdom who won’t hesitate to label things what they are, to call a spade a spade.
He is a champion, a true people’s champion in a world sorely deficit of such persons, and in dire need of more of the same.
As a people we have had a great number of champions of our own, for the most part restricted by geography, language, and tribalism – that began to change upon entering the twentieth century, a century that produced men like Hank Adams and Vine DeLoria, women like Wilma Mankiller and a host of others capable of reaching across boundaries due to technology.
A time, a century, that produced it’s share of pretenders as well, motivated not by the spirit of Crazy Horse as they claim, nor the spirit of those mentioned above, but by self enrichment and a celebrity status.
We as a people have suffered as a result of that, and will continue to until we begin to recognize true champions both within and without our communities.
We have entered a new century, the twenty first, a century still in it’s infancy and one that affords opportunity or perpetuation – the one a positive, the other a negative.
Each of us, man or woman, should strive to be a champion to our families, our children, our relatives and communities, if we do so the seeds of positive change will have been planted, an investment in future champions that will culminate in a revival seldom seen before.
We need to embrace our traditional past and mold our future, a future we will have created, not one of despondency, dependency, or the construct of a handful of pretenders, but one fashioned by our own hands.