Stubborn defiant nasty optimism

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

The words in my title are the one’s Bruce Springsteen used to describe Pete Seeger at his 90th birthday party. And he added to that description the fact that Pete, with his benign grandfatherly appearance, remains a “stealth dagger through the heart of our country’s illusions about itself.”

Bruce followed-up by singing “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

Now Tom said “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy

Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries

Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air

Look for me Mom I’ll be there

Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand

Or decent job or a helpin’ hand

Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free

Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”

What a wonderful tribute to Pete Seeger.

And what a wonderful challenge to all of us about what it means to be an activist…for the long haul. It reminds me of something Bernice Johnson Reagon said.

I’m not so old, and I don’t know nothing else. But you do have to know how to pull back, and you do have to have an old-age perspective. You have to be beyond the womb stage.

None of this matters at all very much if you die tomorrow-that won’t even be cute. It only matters if you make a commitment to be around for another fifty more years. There are some grey haired women I see running around occasionally, and we have to talk to those folks about how come they didn’t commit suicide forty years ago…But be sure you get on your agenda some old people and try to figure out what it will be like if you are a raging radical fifty years from today.

Fifty years from today, I’ll be even older than Pete. But if I’m still alive, I sure hope folks say that I’m a “stubborn defiant nasty optimist.”


  1. for the life, words, and music that inspire us.

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