After Sanders Makes His Endorsement, I Turn to Some Great Reminderers

Those who live by compassion are often canonized.  Those who live by justice are often crucified.  –John Dominic Crossan, Scripture Scholar, USA

Don’t mourn. Organize. –Mother Jones, labor activist, USA

The madness of violence must be recognized, its causes removed, and its implements destroyed. But how can it be done? It can be done by one means only: the manifestation of a better spirit. It is a change of character and conduct through a change of ideas, reason, and good will – these are the only agencies in a civilized age for effecting such changes. – Mohandas Gandhi, lawyer, India

The blood is so much, you know, it runs in rivers. It dries up too; it cakes all over me; sometimes I feel that there is not enough soap in the whole world to cleanse me from the things that I did do in your name. –Davison Budhoo, from his resignation letter to the International Monetary Fund

Responsibility for the poor, exterior to the system, exposes the just person to retaliation by the system, which feels under attack because of its dysfunctionality, openness, and exposure.  For this reason, with inexorable logic the totality persecutes those who in their responsibility for the oppressed testify to the necessity for a new order.  Responsibility is obsession for the other; it is linkage with the other’s exteriority; it entails exposing oneself to traumatization, prison, even death. –Enrique Dussel, philosopher, Argentina & Mexico

This is a turning point in my life.  I was an activist in college, engaged in various ways.  But, the Middle East situation has told me that my life as usual can’t continue when such massive bloodshed is being planned, discussed, prepared for!  It makes me sick.  There is not a moral indignation, but a moral revulsion, nearly physical, that impels me to move, to do, to deepen my reflection, to put my body out there on the line …. Enough.  Stop the bloodshed.  Repent.  God have mercy.  God, empower us to strive and struggle with integrity, love and humility for a better world, to strive and struggle courageously, willing to risk, willing to be inaccommodated, placing our freedom on behalf of others’ unfreedom—empower and inspire us to act creatively and justly and lovingly and disruptingly.  Life as usual cannot go on, as it grinds the poor into the dust and massacres thousands of lives in the sand, blood and oil, blood and sand – sick, sick, sick.  – Mev Puleo, SLU alum & photographer, USA

When I give food to the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a Communist.  –Dom  Helder Camara, Catholic bishop, Brazil

The young people are agreed that a truly revolutionary attitude can only come out of radical, inner conversion. Talking with them, I myself discovered with renewed intensity, that the structures of capitalism (economic, political, or spiritual) are a form of idolatry, a state of sin and death. One must “become marginal” in order to be free and to set others free. –Pedro Casaldaliga, bishop and poet, Brazil

I realized that there was no connection between experiencing the actual event and watching it on the TV screen while sitting at home in peace and safety.  People could watch such horrible scenes on TV and still go about their daily business—eating, dancing, playing with children, having conversations.  After an encounter with such suffering, desperation filled my every cell.  These people were human beings like me; why did they have to suffer so?  Questions like these burned inside me, and, at the same time, inspired me to continue my work with serene determination.  Realizing how fortunate I was compared to those living under the bombs helped dissolve any anger or suffering in me, and I was committed to keep doing my best to help them without fear.  –Chân Không, Buddhist social worker, Vietnam & France

Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.  –Dorothy Day, co-founder, Catholic Worker Movement, USA

Where are the Isaiahs of our day?  Could they be found among the outsiders—a prisoner or a widow or an orphan or a homeless one or an “illegal alien” or someone driven mad by the system?  The vision often starts among such persons who can cut to the essentials in matters of life and death, of compassion and right judgment, while the rest of us know nothing. – Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit peace activist, USA

Go for the jugular.  –Natalie Goldberg, teacher, USA

If the university had not suffered, we would not have performed our duty.  In a world where injustice reigns, a university that fights for justice must necessarily be persecuted. –Ignacio Ellacuría, University president, El Salvador 

We are called to be people of conviction, not conformity; of moral nobility, not social respectability. We are commanded to live differently and according to a higher loyalty.  –Martin Luther King, Jr., preacher & nonviolent activist, USA

I’d like to see billboards by the roadside here: Your worth lies not in what you take from others but in what you give. –Ernesto Cardenal, priest and poet, Nicaragua

Truly I’ve learned more theology in poor neighborhoods than in classrooms.  At times I wonder if the questions of traditional theology have any meaning for the poor.  And “the poor” here means eighty percent of the population!  –Ivone Gebara, philosopher & theologian, Brazil

You cannot be creative in a system that is very unjust, like the system we live in, unless you are a dissident. Because when you are creative you are for justice, for freedom, for love. It’s by nature like that. You feel that you want to do something. You cannot accept injustice. You become angry, if this injustice is happening to you or to others. If you are walking in the street and you see children who are begging, beggars, who are starving, they are dying of hunger, what do you do? You become furious. You want to change the system that created this hunger. You discover it’s not national only, it’s international.  –Nawal el-Saadawi, doctor, Egypt

There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones:  honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change—and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future. – Noam Chomsky, linguist and writer, United States

When I am with Palestinian friends I tend to be somewhat less horrified than when I am trying to act in a role of human rights observer, documenter, or direct-action resister. They are a good example of how to be in it for the long haul. I know that the situation gets to them — and may ultimately get them — on all kinds of levels, but I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity — laughter, generosity, family-time — against the incredible horror occurring in their lives and against the constant presence of death. I felt much better after this morning. I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances –which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.   –Rachel Corrie, college student, USA

The most important question in the world is, ‘Why is the child crying?’ —Alice Walker, poet, novelist, activist, USA

 What can we do?  We can hone our memory, we can learn from our history. We can continue to build public opinion until it becomes a deafening roar. We can turn the war on Iraq into a fishbowl of the U.S. government’s excesses. We can expose George Bush and Tony Blair – and their allies – for the cowardly baby killers, water prisoners, and pusillanimous long-distance bombers that they are.  We can re-invent civil disobedience in a million different ways. In other words, we can come up with a million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass….  Our strategy should be not only to confront Empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer recklessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.—Arundhati Roy, novelist, writer, activist, India

Every day we could think about the aggression in the world, in New York, Los Angeles, Halifax, Taiwan, Beirut, Kuwait, Somalia, Iraq, everywhere. All over the world, everybody always strikes out at the enemy, and the pain escalates forever.  Each day we could reflect on this and ask ourselves, “Am I going to add to the aggression in the world?”  Every day, at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves, “Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?” –Pema Chödrön, Buddhist nun, USA & Canada


Nawal el-Saadawi

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *