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Friday, March 01, 2013


by David Chorlton

Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95.
Hessel, resistance fighter, diplomat, writer of Time for Outrage! and co-author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dies. --TheGuardian headline, February 27, 2013

Image source: citizenside

The interviewer opens with a reference to the title
of a book in French, in which the word
for dignity is kept safe for distribution
to a world more interested in the cost of what can be bought
than in the value of anything.
The interviewee makes his claim for nonviolence,
citing Vaclav Havel, Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev,
and his view that you can’t shoot hedge fund managers,
only convince them of a fairer way. His vocabulary
includes the words conscience and justice,
learned during his time with the Resistance.
What kind of a world shall we leave behind?
the interviewer, a man fifty-seven years old, but still
just a boy to the older man, asks, and we’re tuned
to a vision of trust returning, of living with nature
rather than in conflict, of refusing the ideology
that markets will solve any problem, and (here
the audience applauds) of welcoming immigrants.
The conversation turns back to Buchenwald.
We were Europeans there. The interviewee
escaped by taking a dead man’s name and being helped
by a German. We must become good Europeans again.
He was one of three survivors. We have to think about the others.
He says improving the world is a pleasure,
not a moral duty. The next question is to find out
what makes him lose his temper.
When I’m accused of being anti-Semitic for supporting Palestinians
(applause). He says we must be as patient
as we are passionate, that we don’t need another
revolution like the ones that let us down,
but radical reform. Nineteen forty-four, arrested
by the Gestapo, believed to be important as a spy,
he thought his life was over, his body
already giving up, but the spirit had a mission
and he recited Shakespeare, noting the line
to keep inside his coat:
No longer mourn for me when I am dead
David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix since 1978, and still sees his surroundings with an outsider's eye. This helps his writing projects, which include a new poetry collection, "The Devil's Sonata," from FutureCycle Press.