A lot of activists seem to have a mechanistic view of change, or perhaps they expect what quack diet pills offer, “Quick and easy results guaranteed.” They expect finality, definitiveness, straightforward cause-and-effect relationships, instant returns, and as a result they specialize in disappointment, which sinks in as bitterness, cynicism, defeatism, knowingness.
Freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a bragging point that “Oh, I don’t get involved in politics,” as if that makes you somehow cleaner. No, that makes you derelict of duty in a republic. Liars and panderers in government would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable.
Ralph Nader On How We Can Change Society
But it’s not that hard to turn the country around. Most people, whatever they call themselves — conservative, liberal, libertarian, progressive — have a deep sense of fair play and justice. They’re not sadists. They care for other people. We see this during a national disaster. All labels go out the window, and everybody helps rescue people from floods or fires. That’s what we want to tap into. That’s why I say fewer than 1 percent of the people, if they represent a majority opinion, can make a lot of changes. It won’t produce a utopia, but it will certainly produce a better country than we’ve been experiencing.
After two decades of wandering the country by bus and living below the poverty line, I’d been unable to find whatever it was I was looking for. My adventures had not supplied me with the artistic depth and raw material for a sensational first novel. I’d bet every last chip on the literary roulette wheel, and the ball had chuckled and hopped around and landed on someone else’s number.
Six years after my father left us, in the summer of 1977, my mother, my younger brother, and I were living in a single-wide trailer in the desert of Wildomar, California. My mother’s sister Anne and Anne’s husband, Gerick, lived with their boys in a double-wide on the same property, ten acres of scrubland my wealthy grandparents had bought as an investment. We must have resembled squatters, but we were there legally. I was ten and would enter the fifth grade that fall.
The quad of Abbot Academy overlooked a scenic pond, surrounded by red oaks and white pines, where one might imagine the boys pensively rowing at dawn across the misty waters. On the other side were a dozen charming, weathered buildings — the classrooms and dorms, which were more like houses. No one even called them dorms. They used the word home, as in “Do you want to go home after lunch?” A portion of a barn could be seen in the near distance, as well as a corral for the horses, since the type of preadolescent boys who attended Abbot were thought to thrive if given the opportunity to care for large mammals.
Amlan Sanyal took these photographs at a road-construction site on the outskirts of his hometown of Siliguri in West Bengal, India, near the foothills of the Himalayas. He says the workers, mostly migrants from remote villages, are often exposed to hazardous materials and run an increased risk of respiratory problems, dermatitis, gastrointestinal diseases, and other disorders.