Carol Chomsky

Carol Chomsky left us this past Thursday, December 18, and now we mourn her loss. She remained in the background for the most part, but there can be no doubt that she played a crucial role in supporting and enhancing Noam’s work, all the way from back in the 60s when she undertook doctoral work at Harvard in order to be able to support  their young family in face of the likely prospect of Noam being sent to prison because of his antiwar activism.

Carol was a familiar sight at Noam’s side as he traveled around the world giving talks, and meeting with activists and community leaders. Nowhere was this more obvious than on their 2006 trip to Lebanon together, and in the book about that trip that was published soon after.

All our hearts are with Noam and his family through these sorrowful hours and days. We can only pray that Noam be granted the strength to continue his crucial work for humanity in the months and years to come, though without doubt this will only be more arduous than ever, since now he must carry on without his cherished companion, partner, and spouse. Noam and Carol lived a life of love that has been an inspiration for all the world to see. Their  collaboration and teamwork serves as a shining example of what it means to be truly, fully, and freely human; the light of their example illustrates the manner in which we must proceed if we are to continue on the path they have opened for us all — with compassion, empathy, kindness, decency, and love that is nothing less than universal.

It is important that we pause and reflect at the passing of a great one, a person who has sacrificed so much to point out the way for the rest of us, and that we use this sad occasion to realize anew how much is at stake, how much remains to be done. Carol’s legacy is the rejuvenation of hope for humanity. We celebrate her life, and treasure forever the many gifts she has left us.

One cannot help but think at a time like this of W.H. Auden’s beautiful poem, "In Memory of W.B. Yeats," and want to paraphrase some of the lines there as apt and eloquent for expressing our sorrow, and our gratitude today:

Carol Chomsky has become her admirers; Earth, receive an honored guest. /  In this time when intellectual disgrace / Stares from every human face / And the seas of pity lie / Locked and frozen in each eye / With your unconstraining voice / Still persuade us to rejoice; / Sing of human unsuccess / In a rapture of distress; / In the deserts of the heart / Let the healing fountain start, / In the prison of his days / Teach the free man how to praise.


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