I wonder who your influences are? Many of my influences have been with me for a long time, as I’m sure yours have. My childhood influences included Tensing and Hillary and their Everest adventure, John Lennon sending his MBE back protesting the British neglect of Biafra’s plight, Bernadette Devlin speaking about peace at a time when blind vengeance gripped Northern Ireland, Phan Thi Kim Phuc running down a road from Trang Bang during a napalm bomb attack in South Vietnam, her skin seared by the napalm; Bob Dylan’s challenging lyrics.
Through high school and into adulthood, reading and documentary took me into the lives of Ghandi, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King jnr., Dag Hammarskjold, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Daniel Berrigan, Rosa Parks, Oscar Romero, Che Guevara, Trevor Huddleston, Richard Neville, Alexander Dubcek, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Rachel Carson, and many more. The New Testament took me to Jesus which has been foundational for me.
All of these people influenced my view of people, life and the world. They have been provocative journey friends who gave me a footprint to begin my own journey. And that journey has been one of challenging institutions, standing with underdogs, fighting for the rights of people and the environment, and holding government and corporations to account at times. They nurtured me body, mind and spirit.
But I see a diminished stance in the world today. While there are certainly feats of human endeavour and there are scientific progressions and artistic delights, there are few new songs of protest, fewer sustained public protests of substance, an acceptance of government and legislation without interest or question. I don’t yearn for the past, its gone, but what have we lost along the way in terms of resistance to the erosion of community, personal and communal rights, workers rights, protecting the environment, and seeking the common good? It seems to me that we have all but given in to neoliberalism.
Why do people run away from the challenge? Why the apathy? The people on my list encouraged me to stand firm, not to run and hide. So I continue to prod. I hope you do too.