Magazine article Tikkun

Apologies and Advice: A Letter to Younger Activists

Magazine article Tikkun

Apologies and Advice: A Letter to Younger Activists

Article excerpt

Let's get the apology over with first. Like everyone in my generation (those who lived through the upheavals of the sixties), I feel dreadful about the world we're leavingyou. I myself don't plan on leaving it soon, but we had the chance to leave you a much better springboard, and we failed.

In July, 2005 Michael Lerner and I (with the help of many others) mounted the first Spiritual Activism Conference on the Berkeley campus. I went up on the roof of the Student Union Building to hang out with the lively youth contingent. As I watched and listened, I was able to identify six things that my peers and I had gotten wrong when, forty-one years earlier, we had agitated for free speech on the plaza below:

* We felt alienated, if not betrayed by the older generation. Our defiant motto was "Don't trust anyone over thirty," which was fine with me until January 20, 1967, when I crossed into exile. This motto deprived us of much wisdom.

* We had no relationship with the earth and, in some cases, with anything material.

* We saw life and our situation as a simple political struggle, quoting Marx, though few ever read him. People with a spiritual view (like myself) were severely mistrusted. Somewhere in the mid-seventies this changed, though tensions remain.

* We thought things had to be big and hierarchical to have influence. Though numbers still seduce us, we now recognize that hierarchy itself is part of the problem.

* We knew next to nothing about nonviolence. There is still far to go here, but nonviolent groups are starting to pass their best practices on to other revolutionaries- a qualitative and welcome change.

* We thought (conveniently enough) that having sex was a revolutionary act. I think we still have a good bit to learn about the uses of sexual energy, but at least young people no longer confuse the act itself with political change.

Building on these observations, I would urge today's activists to make global warming the number one priority for the entire movement. …

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