Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

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Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Try Again


Lasting change requires more than just speaking up, it requires listening to those with whom you disagree, and being prepared to compromise.  Democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100 percent right. 

We can be completely right, and have all the relevant facts, but we still need to engage those people, with whom we disagree in a civil and persuade manner.  Those of you, who think that the only way to succeed in changing another persons opinion is to be as uncompromising as possible; don’t understand that lasting change often takes many generations to accomplish.  Winning a single election can make some people feel good about themselves, but enjoying moral purity, and feeling superior isn’t going to get them what they want.

Those who don’t get what they want right away may eventually think the whole system is rigged.  That could lead to more cynicism, less participation, and a downward spiral of more injustice, anger and eventually despair.  Cynicism will never result in progress, and you may cheat yourself of the possibility of success.

Making an awful situation better is preferable, because then we have an opportunity to consolidate our gains and move on to the next fight from a stronger position.

The Emancipation Proclamation, and the Voting Rights Act were certainly not perfect when they were first implemented, but they did indicate that our nation was beginning to make progress.  They did not make up for centuries of slavery, or eliminate racism, but they did make things better.

In my opinion our struggle against racism will continue for generations.  Electing Obama was a feel good moment for Democrats.  However, by not voting, or voting in subsequent elections for members of Congress, who didn’t support Obama’s agenda, made it impossible for him to achieve his goals.


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