I’ve expressed my view several times that each of us can change the world simply by making changes in ourselves. Personal responsibility is an important issue with me and while I understand the need to complain about the course of history which seems so much larger than ourselves, individuals make history and none of us is helpless even in the most oppressive times. I’m not talking about signing petitions or participating in public demonstrations. Demonstrations die and the names of petition signers get sold to other entities who bombard us with unwanted appeals.
The fallout from public outcries is that it often leads to a greater partitioning of hearts and minds. Voices raise against ours and civil unrest divides us into tribes. I don’t say there is harm in public demonstrations but the struggle begins with a quiet revolution where we rouse not the community but ourselves. It comes when we resolve neither to complain or despair but to be firm of purpose and to create change every day where and when we can. If this advice seems simplistic or naive, I am not alone In holding it. An essay Albert Camus wrote in 1939 has recently been discovered. In it he advises his countrymen on how to resist the German occupation during World War II. No guns or bullets, no outcries in the public square are required. He calls for resolve and with words so simple, so elegant and so near to my heart, that I would be a fool to interpret or embellish them.
If every Frenchman would maintain in his own sphere, all that he believes to be true and just, if only he would do his feeble part to aid in the maintenance of freedom, resist surrender and make his will known, then and then alone will this war be well and truly won, in the deepest sense of the word. (“Manifesto” by Albert Camus, Le Soir, 11/25, 1939 and reprinted in Harper’s, July 2012, pg. 16)
(Albert Camus Courtesy of reidsreading.blogsport.com)