The Countless Small Actions of Unknown People

February 1st, 2010 by Justin Kemerling
[caption id="attachment_721" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_723" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Why we like to share."][/caption] Howard Zinn, a truly remarkable figure in our society, passed away last week. I have always thought of him as a sense maker and a truth teller. Both those things can certainly get you into trouble in America, especially when those in power are directly in your line of fire. His most well-known work, A People's History of the United States (history from the view of its unknown participants) has been a trusty companion for my outlook on the world. As has Passionate Declarations: Essays on War and Justice. And now The People Speak brings these ideas to life through wonderfully inspiring performances you can view on the History Channel: "Democracy is not a spectator sport." Democracy NOW!, one fine independent media network, has quite a tribute to this historian/teacher/activist. It's a look at how he challenged the status quo and the standard myths most Americans are taught in school. But more importantly, it shows his willingness to be a participant in the great movements for change that have shaped our modern world. He was there. On the front lines. In the shit. Raising hell and speaking truth right in the face of power. He was active. And because of his example, his understanding of the world, his ability to move people with his conviction and his humor, he was able to change people's perspectives and raise their consciousness. He will certainly be missed. But his view of the world, "the countless small actions of unknown people" that lead to those great moments that enter the historical record, a record that you simply can’t begin to understand unless you look at those countless small actions, will certainly live on in the millions of people who were inspired by his life. You can't be neutral on a moving train, and because of him, you know the history of those people who stood up on the side of equality, justice and peace, and you know it's possible to do the same.

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