This I Believe

Tony - Oakland, California
Entered on January 4, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe every person is a potential revolutionary. Hidden in each of us is the same stuff that made Che Guevara, Samuel Adams, Leon Trotsky, and Thomas Russell great revolutionaries.

You don’t have to overthrow a government or hide out in the jungle with bombs and bayonets to be a genuine revolutionary. You can commute to work each day, live in the suburbs, attend church on Sunday, and wear attire that won’t scare your friends and still count yourself a revolutionary.

Being a revolutionary doesn’t mean adopting radical political views and making fiery speeches against Yankee imperialism. It’s much more mundane than that (and a lot less risky). Unlike other creatures in the animal kingdom, the human species has the unique ability to actively shape the world in which it lives, not just be shaped by it, and that that ability enables us to be revolutionaries. I think the world needs more revolutionaries.

I discovered that I was a revolutionary when I found that I could impact the lives of inner-city youth in Oakland, CA by getting involved in a supplemental education program called the All Stars Talent Show Network. My six years with All Stars as a fundraiser and volunteer has helped me see that I don’t have to sit idly by while young African-Americans languish in poverty and deprivation. I can be a revolutionary.

I further realized my revolutionary potential when I got involved in organizing independent voters into a movement to create a new political culture in this country. We’re not going to throw the Republicans and Democrats out of office any time soon, but we are doing what we can to transform politics. It makes me feel powerful to know that I can do something meaningful in the political arena, even if George Bush and Nancy Pelosi haven’t quite taken notice yet. I am being a revolutionary.

Something happens when you become a revolutionary. Your relationship to life changes. You become a participant in, not just a spectator to, this grand collective affair that is our world. I have no illusions about where I stand in the scheme of things, but I am more of an actor in the world than I was in my pre-revolutionary days. The disillusionment and despair that many feel at not being able to change things loosens its grip when you become a revolutionary.

So, comrades, I urge you to rise up and join the revolution. You can start in small ways, with how you treat people, your boss, your neighbors, the homeless guy on the street. Then, over time, you can make greater revolutionary efforts. You might volunteer, join a non-profit, help an elderly neighbor, mentor a wayward youth, and then witness some aspect of the world change for the better because of your active involvement. The result can be immediate and gratifying, and what can you lose? Nothing but your chains of disillusionment and despair.