(this was/is still a personal formative social conscience movie)
much inspired by great men and artists of the past from whom I have long drawn inspiration, I am also pro-civilization and pro-democracy which continues to be tested today by the crooked, morally-bankrupt likes of Trudeau, Trump, Kim, and Putin.
I have long had a social conscience, having grown up in relative poverty, then chosen higher education as a means to social action through 30 years of teaching and some 30 years of high-school English student textbook writing and 30 years of doing conferences in the same vein to assist teachers and other educators.
When I was in university, I worked as a nursing orderly and a letter carrier to help others beyond just making money to fund my university education. Charity has long been a regular feature of how I spend my money, even in retirement now. And I never fail to donate at the corner store or at the door and drop off material goods no longer needed to Good Will or Eco Depot. I long took seriously the ’60s notion of “making a contribution”.
Certainly, too, there have also been many books which contributed to my social conscience and sense of moral justice, right and wrong, such as Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Zola’s Germinal, Orwell’s Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four, Charles Dickens’ novels, Shakespeare’s tragedies, Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Ibsen’s plays, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Eliot’s Middlemarch, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Conrad’s novels, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Huxley’s Brave New World, Camus’ L’Etranger, and Kafka’s The Trial.
This social conscience was, likewise, reinforced by the early songs of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, Phil Ochs’ social commentary songs, Bruce Cockburn’s and Johnny Clegg’s work. And by many movies including Anatomy of a Murder, All the President’s Men, Billy Budd, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Caine Mutiny, Casablanca, The Conversation, The Crucible, Cry, the Beloved Country, Gentleman’s Agreement, Fahrenheit 451, Gandhi, Hamlet, High Noon, Howards End, In the Heat of the Night, JFK, Key Largo, King Lear, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, The Merchant of Venice, The Miracle Worker, Murder on the Orient Express, 1984, O Lucky Man!, Of Mice and Men, Paris Texas, The Pawnbroker, A Raisin in the Sun, The Razor’s Edge, Short Cuts, Shine, Sounder, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Touch of Evil, Twelve Angry Men, Ulee’s Gold, The Verdict, Wall Street, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, and Zorba the Greek.
And as well, there are many famous people who have impressed and inspired me with their own social consciences including Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Thomas Edison, Rachel Carson, Leonardo da Vinci, Terry Fox, to name several.
Today, I often write of social concerns on my personal blog. I am part of the local writing community, giving up time and efforts to help the Stroll of Poets. As a grandfather, I have been educating my grandsons and still ‘teach’ after all this time. Generally, I still look out for friends and family regardless of my core individualistic leanings and personal freedom these days.
No, social conscience is pretty basic for me, though most of my activism happened in the past in my teaching years. Having said all the above, I still have no regrets though, of being my own person and having my own integrity through my working years and retirement. These were two key foundations underlying my own sense of others and society all the way up to this point in time. These and empathy and sympathy–two key gifts by my parents.