Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I'm 64 74?
December 11, 2013
I turn 74 today, and with your support feel fully ready to write my brains out until they last. I am oddly proud that my work is uncompensated in this money-made country. That's right, the hundred or so Peace Exchange Bulletin articles of the past year - unpaid labor. The dozens of The Nation and Huffington Post pieces - also unpaid. An opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times or The Guardian - a couple of hundred bucks towards my kid's education and music classes. Two years' work on a book - maybe a thousand bucks a month, with no money for advertisements and promotion. You get the picture, because many of you are in the same boat or an even leakier one.
Before 2013 ends, please make a contribution to the PJRC to pay for my stellar research assistant, Emma Taylor, and our minor administrative expenses. Nothing's free, but we are as free as it gets. If you cannot donate to the PJRC, please pledge to copy, paste and circulate our materials as widely as you can. And send feedback too.
One of the nicest messages I've received recently came from Michael Ratner, the human rights attorney who heads the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which has been litigating against stop-and-frisk. When I wrote in The Nation about William Bratton's record in Los Angeles, Michael replied, "Tom, that was a very good and important piece. No one else has said it." Additionally, he tweeted the article to his six thousand followers. This support is invaluable.
My own favorite five days this year was lobbying in D.C. against the impending US missile attack on Syria. With my friends in Progressive Democrats of America (You should join up!), we published an argument against escalation in the insider paper, Roll Call, visited over one hundred congressional offices, and witnessed the shortest successful peace movement in memory - the escalation was called off after a week!
Also dear to my heart are the California prisoners who went on hunger strike to oppose decades of solitary confinement. I wrote for the Los Angeles Times and The Nation about their struggle, lobbied Governor Jerry Brown and key Senators for hearings, and finally, we succeeded in forcing the Legislature to engage with their life-and-death issues.
For 2014, I am committed to writing the unknown history of the Cuban Revolution and the New Left, and speaking everywhere I can on behalf of normalization of relations before President Obama leaves office. My intuition and experience tell me that it's doable at last. My new book on Cuba will be out next year, published by Seven Stories Press.
I am blessed to watch and witness the seasons of life go by, in awe of the unpredictability of history and with faith that social movements are always being born.
Director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center