• Bill Moon

Reflecting on Howard Zinn's "To Be Hopeful In Bad Times"

Updated: Jun 1

What we choose to emphasize in the complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.

It is important for us to see as Brother André of Bessette saw, that "In fact, EVERYTHING is CONNECTED. We have only to realize that we have no control and just answer the doorbell!


Brother André of Bessette of Canada gives us a wonderful example. As keeper of the door, he humbly received all people at the door as if they were Christ himself.





Here is Howard Zinn's reflection on how to be hopeful in bad times:


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 and kindness.


What we choose to emphasize in the 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 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.”

 

by Howard Zinn from You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History. Howard Zinn--activist, historian, author of A People’s History of the United States--participated in and chronicled some of the landmark struggles for racial and economic justice in US history from his teenage years as a laborer in Brooklyn to teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta, a powerful voice for justice in the civil rights movement. A former bombardier in World War II, he later became an outspoken antiwar activist, spirited protestor, and champion of civil disobedience. Throughout his life, Zinn was unwavering in his belief that “small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

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