You ask how I manage to stay involved and remain seemingly happy and adjusted to this
awful world where the efforts of caring people pale in comparison to those who have power?
It’s easy. First, don’t let "those who have
power" intimidate you. No matter how much power they have they cannot prevent you
from living your life, speaking your mind, thinking independently, having relationships
with people as you like. (Read Emma Goldman’s autobiography LIVING MY LIFE. Harassed, even
imprisoned by authority, she insisted on living her life, speaking out, however she felt
Second, find people to be with who have your values, your commitments, but who also
have a sense of humor. That combination is a necessity!
Third (notice how precise is my advice that I can confidently number it, the way
scientists number things), understand that the major media will not tell you of all the
acts of resistance taking place every day in the society, the strikes, the protests, the
individual acts of courage in the face of authority. Look around (and you will certainly
find it) for the evidence of these unreported acts. And for the little you find,
extrapolate from that and assume there must be a thousand times as much as what you’ve
Fourth. Note that throughout history people have felt powerless before authority, but
that at certain times these powerless people, by organizing, acting, risking, persisting,
have created enough power to change the world around them, even if a little. That is the
history of the labor movement, of the women’s movement, of the anti-Vietnam war movement,
the disabled persons movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the movement of black people
in the South.
Fifth: Remember, that those who have power, and who seem invulnerable are in fact quite
vulnerable, that their power depends on the obedience of others, and when those others
begin withholding that obedience, begin defying authority, that power at the top turns out
to be very fragile. Generals become powerless when their soldiers refuse to fight,
industriaists become powerless when their workers leave the jobs or occupy the factories.
Sixth: When we forget the fragility of that power in top we become astounded when it
crumbles in the face of rebellion. We have had many such surprises in our time, both in
the United States and in other countries.
Seventh: Don’t look for a moment of total triumph. See
it as an ongoing struggle, with victories and defeats, but in the long run the
consciousness of people growing. So you need patience, persistence, and need to understand
that even when you don’t "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that
you have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile.
Okay, seven pieces of profound advice should be enough.