chitta chatter

right versus might… be wrong

Posted in being human, film, peace by Nancy on May 26, 2010

Last week, D and I took advantage of a rare free Tuesday night to head down to Culver City for our old ritual of a stroll through the farmer’s market followed by dinner at the Krishna temple. But the real reason for going down there was a talk being given by Mark Rudd, former student organizer and anti-Vietnam war activist. We had seen the documentary The Weather Underground a few months ago, so when the invitation to the talk arrived in my email inbox, I immediately recognized Rudd and signed us up for the event.

He was a really affable guy and seemed quite humble. But according to Rudd himself, that wasn’t always so… by the time he joined the Weather Underground, he had become a macho revolutionary who “in the end, just wanted to be Che Guevara”. Fortunately, though, the Weathermen/Weather Underground never killed anyone other than their own people (in a bomb-making accident… read the instructions first, kids). So at least his lust for revolution didn’t leave him with blood on his hands.

Anyway, during the interview, Rudd mentioned that one of the most vital aspects of organizing back in the day was not just handing out flyers, but actually talking—and listening—to the people who took them. Engaging in a dialogue. That was how you got people interested. And involved.

When the interview was over, he fielded questions from the audience. One woman asked if he had any suggestions on how to get people on opposite sides of an issue to talk to each other (rather than shutting down as per usual), especially in light of how polarized our nation has become.

I don’t remember what his actual, verbal answer was, but his open demeanor embodied what seems to be the key: that the only way you can expect people to engage in an honest debate is to go into it fully accepting the fact that, no matter where you stand, no matter how right you know you are, YOU MIGHT BE WRONG.

Aye, there’s the rub.

Actually, I think Rudd unknowingly answered that woman’s question in his response to the question that followed (what advice he would give to start-up, grassroots peace activists… or something). He said:

“The most effective organizer is anonymous.”

True that. If you can get the ego out of the way (or at least make it sit down and behave), you’ll finally be free… to be anonymous, to be wrong and to change the world. Death to the ego! Power to the people!

* NOTE: Everything written here might be wrong.


One Response

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  1. leavingstressbehind said, on May 26, 2010 at 4:09 pm


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