Excerpt from The People Speak (on YouTube)
I left the theater an hour ago with a sense of awe, outrage and commitment. Based on Zinn’s Histories of the United States, with dramatic readings by people most would recognize and musical performances most people would feel deep in their souls, this documentary produced by Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Zinn and others was, for me, a call to action.
The voices I heard were telling me to follow in the footsteps of people who used courage and passion as a substitute for money and position. When these common people, from black children who couldn’t use the swings in public parks to mothers deprived of their children in futile wars, could no longer endure the injustices ignored (or perpetrated) by our country’s leaders, they stepped out. Violence was not their way to fight back. They joined together in unions and went on strikes; they boycotted businesses; they stood or marched en masse and their feet on the pavement drummed a new beat: Stop this! We are no different than you. We deserve to live as humans, to be treated humanely, to be respected.
And when enough “ordinary” citizens would no longer be victimized, they won new rights—but not fully and not forever. Some of those rights are slipping away again. Gross disparities in income and education cause the distribution of power to be a strange see-saw, with a very few holding their seat to solid ground while millions hang high in the air, waiting nervously while hoping they will be let down gently.
A line from the film (from Ecclesiastes)that echoes back to me is, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…though one may be overpowered two can defend themselves.” Most of us know that to make ours a better world, we will have to partner with others, possibly even with some who challenge us to change. Yet we stay on our islands of discouragement and deprivation.
What will it take for us to step out? And what happens if we wait too long?