I first became aware of Howard Zinn when I came home from my humanitarian assessment trip to Iraq before the Second Gulf War. His voice was one that could not be ignored in it’s opposition to the cacophony of lies and half-truths trumpeted by the US administration for the need to invade Iraq. His fearless attacks against the rampant stupidity being promoted won him a place as one of my favorites.
I was surprised and delighted to find that Zinn is also a favorite of Willie Nelson. As I was reading Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, I came across this powerful quote.
Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience….Our problem is that the people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves…and the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.
Zinn is right. We are mostly like sheep and far too obedient for our own good. There is no righteousness in allowing evil to flourish and remaining silent in the face of injustice. Never doubt that authority always needs to be questioned, sometimes confronted, and when necessary…even disobeyed.