Matt Damon reads from Howard Zinn’s speech “The Problem is Civil Obedience”
Matt Damon reads from Howard Zinn’s speech “The Problem is Civil Obedience” (November 1970)
from Voices of a People’s History.
Matt Damon, a lifelong friend of Howard Zinn and his family, read excerpts from a speech Howard Zinn gave in 1970 as part of a debate on civil disobedience.
This performance was part of “The People Speak, Live!” with Matt Damon and Lupe Fiasco at the Metro in Chicago, on January 31, 2012, produced by Voices of a People’s History (peopleshistory.us) in collaboration with Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival.
Learn more at Facebook.com/VoicesofaPeoplesHistory and on Twitter @VPH.
Here’s what Howard Zinn writes about this speech in his introduction to the full piece in his book Voices of a People’s History of the United States, written with Anthony Arnove and first published in 2004 by Seven Stories Press:
“In November 1970, after my arrest along with others who had engaged in a Boston protest at an army base to block soldiers from being sent to Vietnam, I flew to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to take part in a debate with the philosopher Charles Frankel on civil disobedience. I was supposed to appear in court that day in connection with the charges resulting from the army base protest. I had a choice: show up in court and miss this opportunity to explain — and practice — my commitment to civil disobedience, or face the consequences of defying the court order by going to Baltimore. I chose to go. The next day, when I returned to Boston, I went to teach my morning class at Boston University. Two detectives were waiting outside the classroom and hauled me off to court, where I was sentenced to a few days in jail. Here is the text of my speech that night at Johns Hopkins.”
Matt Damon Gives Us All Something To Think About
November 22, 2013 by Arjun Walia. 7 Comments.
mat damonThe Video below is of Matt Damon reading a speech that Howard Zinn gave in 1970 as part of a debate on civil disobedience. Damon is a lifelong friend of Zinn and his family. Zinn was known as a historian, playwright, author and social activist. The speech was part of an event called ‘The People Speak, Live,’ and was produced by ‘Voices of a People’s History,’ which gives public expression opportunities to rebels, dissenters, and visionaries of the past and present.
The main point of the speech is that our issue is not disobedience, it’s obedience. Many people on the planet are not resonating with many aspects of the current human experience. It’s very clear that there are much better ways to do things here on planet Earth, it’s time to start questioning why we operate the way we do. Things might be forced on to us to some extent, but ultimately, it’s our choice. Playing the blame game isn’t useful at all, it’s useless if we want to create change.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new – Socrates
With the growth of alternative media outlets, it’s clear that many people would like things to change. Subjects ranging from GMOs, to healthcare, government transparency and clean energy, we are raising our voices, we are being heard, and it’s known that the masses are well aware of what is really happening on our planet. Before we were unaware, and simply accepted the world around us. Obedience is becoming a thing of the past as awareness is spreading and is motivating the collective to create change.
Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. We recognized this from Nazi Germany, we know that the problem there was obedience, that the people obeyed Hitler, people obeyed. That was wrong, they should have challenged, they should have resisted. People are obedient, all these herd like people. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state
It’s great to see celebrities using their reach to do what they can. Rosaenne Barr recently expressed how Hollywood is a culture of fear, and many celebrities are afraid to speak out. I believe her, as celebrities have a wide reach, they are literally walking corporations and if they say something that threatens other corporations, they might be placing themselves in a dangerous situation. We’ve seen this with Jon Lennon , Tupac, and Michael Jackson to name a few.
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