Chomsky was asked the following question in the Z Sustainer Forums:
In organizing, I’ve noticed among my active friends and family that when constantly confronting these crimes, it is very easy to become depressed or develop all kinds of anxieties. I have seen it happen to a number of people already, including myself. I know this question extends into the personal, and for that reason I hestitate to ask, but it seems you are able to confront a wide range of serious problems and yet not get discouraged and maintain a healthy composure. If that is correct, how do you do it? What advice would you make to others who might fall victim to depression/fatalism/etc. when organizing?
He replied as follows:
REPLY FROM NC: Since it’s a personal question, let me give a personal answer. I was in Lebanon a few months ago. After one talk in downtown Beirut, there was the usual crowd raising questions, making comments, asking for books to be signed, etc. One young woman came over with a book of mine she wanted me to sign, open to a certain page, and said, simply, “I am Kinda.” It was one of the most moving moments I can remember — and it’s a great testimony to Western civilization that almost no one would know why. The book she had was from 20 years ago, with a chapter that discussed Reagan’s terrorist bombing of Libya, the first bombing in history timed precisely for prime-time TV (which commentators pretended not to notice). One outstanding journalist, Charles Glass (who happens to be a close friend), was not content with the usual fare and went to see what had happened to the victims. He found a family in a ruined house. The mother showed him a letter written by her daughter. It said something like “Dear Mr. Reagan, I am seven years old. Why did you kill my sister and my best friend and my rag doll? Is it because we are Palestinians and you don’t want us to go home? Signed Kinda.” You can find the exact text in my book Pirates and Emperors. Charlie managed to get it published in a right-wing British journal. Alex Cockburn published it in the US, with a comment to Ron and Nancy that since they liked to read children’s letters, maybe they could read this one. End of story in the civilized West.
Not long after meeting Kinda and her mother, I heard the State Department’s David Welch somberly explaiining in academic tones over CNN that the US had decided, in its magnanimity, that perhaps Libya had atoned sufficiently for its terrible crimes against us, so we might, graciously, allow it back into the civilized world.
It’s not the only case by any means. Just a recent and unforgettable one. And beyond personal experiences, it hardly takes any imagination to find innumerable hideous ones. By looking at this morning’s newspaper, for example.
I don’t know if it’s obvious that this is a response to your question, but it’s the best one I can think of.