The legendary American ‘people’s historian’ and anti-war activist Howard Zinn, author of the classic ‘A People’s History of the United States’, has passed away.
“You cannot depend on presidents; you cannot depend on elections and voting to solve your problems,” said Zinn.
One of his central themes was that ordinary people – through countless small acts of organising, struggling and clamouring for reforms – are the only ones who can turn the tide and push elected reps to make meaningful change. This a message that should resonate with many Malaysians disappointed with the antics of certain elected reps who are supposed to be furthering the reform agenda but instead end up betraying the people’s aspirations. Do not lose hope!
‘He was everybody’s favourite teacher, the teacher that changed your life,” observed writer Naomi Klein, “but he was that for millions and millions of people.”
He not only deconstructed the myths and illusions in the official version of history but also taught people to believe in themselves and to work for change – and to know that they are not alone. “Don’t believe in great men, believe in yourselves, history comes from the bottom-up. You make the change that you want,” was his constant message.
Howard believed there was no more meaningful action or fulfilling role in life than to struggle for justice. For an inspirational message from him on why we must not give up hope, go here.