PREOCCUPATIONS Embrace Your Age, and Conquer the World By PEGGY KLAUS Published: September 14, 2013 IN March, I celebrated my 60th birthday, which brought with it the expected mix of disbelief and angst. I got over the worst of it, thanks to three days of festivities and reassurance from kind friends. But soon I began to notice that I was avoiding mentioning my age around clients and colleagues. Johanna Goodman In trying to keep that information close to the vest, I was far from alone. Sometime between 50 and 60, I’ve found, people tend to stop publicizing their age. This is hardly a new phenomenon — my Aunt Ruth cut five years off her age by 40, a fact uncovered only at her funeral. The difference now is that it’s becoming a losing battle to hide this vital statistic. Thanks a lot, Google. So I want to propose that we over-50s start to own — even embrace — how old we are. With nearly 80 million baby boomers alive today, we have the numbers to tackle ageism. It’s the perfect time for a major cultural attitude adjustment. Certainly, there are legitimate reasons for boomers to be cagey about their age. In social situations, we fear that people will treat us differently. And in the workplace, age discrimination is very much alive. Friends of mine who were Emmy Award-winning producers and writers stopped getting jobs when they hit their late 40s and 50s; studio executives thought they couldn’t possibly relate to younger audiences. A 72-year-old friend with a new preschool teaching position could sense skepticism from fellow teachers about her ability to work with 3- and 4-year-olds. Could this woman sit cross-legged on the rug? Could she get up without calling the paramedics? It turns out that even we older people discriminate against one another. I recently talked to a hiring manager in her 60s who acknowledged that she was reluctant to hire a 64-year-old candidate out of concern that he wouldn’t stay for more than a year or two before retiring. But in fact, many baby boomers want to keep working past the traditional retirement age. They like the stimulation and the challenge. Many need to work. When there are mortgages, college tuition and elderly parents to deal with, retirement is not an option. Also contrary to popular lore that innovative ideas spring only from fresh, young minds in dorm rooms, a Northwestern University study found that people who are 55 and even 65 have more innovation potential than 25-year-olds. In a Preoccupations column this past spring, Tom Agan, an innovation and brand expert, wrote, “If an organization wants innovation to flourish, the conversation needs to change from severance packages to retention bonuses.” He believes that the innovation capacity of experienced older workers more than offsets the higher salary and retirement costs associated with employing them. There are all kinds of perceptions about older workers — some good, some bad. Based on research by the Adecco staffing company, hiring managers see us as reliable, professional and possessing a stellar work ethic. On the flip side, we are thought to be somewhat resistant to technology and to taking orders from managers half our age. Unfortunately, in the broader culture, the negative perceptions outnumber the positives. And we don’t help the situation by accepting them. A good first step toward a turnaround is to examine our own stereotypes and fess up to our fears. Then we need to change our attitude. With aging, as with most things in life, attitude counts for a lot. Grandma was right: you’re only as old as you feel. So let’s feel good about being 50, 60, 70 and beyond. Let’s even brag about it. I’VE spent untold hours helping business professionals brag about themselves — the good way, of course — for the job interview, the sales pitch, the elevator speech, you name it. But the group that needs to do a much better job at this is the 55-and-over crowd. In and out of the workplace, we need to share our stories with pride. We have much experience and wisdom under our belts, which makes for a distinct perspective and, ultimately, a richer culture. At this age, like any other, the key to happiness is to fully embrace who we are — to prize what we’ve learned and to appreciate how far we’ve come. Because many of us will be around into our late 80s and 90s, and maybe longer, we’ll have lots of time to practice. Peggy Klaus advises executives and organizations on leadership and communication. A version of this article appears in print on September 15, 2013, on page BU9 of the New York edition with the headline: Embrace Your Age, And Conquer The World.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Thursday, September 5, 2013
On Sunday night, Aminata Touré was named Prime Minister of Senegal. True to Touré’s style, she announced the appointment herself. A new Prime Minister forms a new cabinet. It was thought that Touré would have the cabinet by the end of the week. She had it by Monday evening. That’s how Mimi Touré, as she is called, works. Touré is called the Iron Lady. Every woman who rises to a certain level of government becomes an Iron Lady in the press. The men are, well, just guys. Whichever mineral flows through the veins of Aminata Touré, she has spent all of her adult life working as a human rights and women’s rights activist, who has worked in Senegal and around the world on women’s issues and, more generally, at the intersection of social and economic justice struggles. Until Sunday’s appointment, Touré was Senegal’s Minister of Justice. As Minister, Touré became well known, and largely popular, for far-reaching anti-corruption campaigns that reached deep, far, wide and high into the previous government’s ranks. She brought Karim Wade, son of the previous President, to trial and then to prison. She oversaw the arrest of Chad’s former President Hissène Habré and made sure the subsequent trial wouldn’t wait for decades to occur. From her early days, from her adolescence, to the present, Touré has been an activist, a militante, and a footballeuse who played for the Dakar Gazelles. At university, Touré worked with the Communist Workers’ League. Since then, her militancy has turned to family planning, both in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and around the world, working most recently with the United Nations Population Fund. At the UNFPA, Touré was Chief of the Gender, Human Rights and Culture Branch. There, she pushed and pulled to get all sorts of people, agencies, governments to begin to think and act more seriously about “gender mainstreaming”. Touré understood that, from the State perspective as well as from an analytical point of view, women’s reproductive rights are part of the governmental budget process, and so the two have to be synthesized. She has argued that women’s empowerment and gender equality are key to any kind of health program. She has argued that access to health is a human right, and that that human right is first and foremost a women’s right. Repeatedly, she has shown the world that, if not another world, then a better world is possible … now. And she has worked to make the now happen … now. And she has often succeeded. In her new cabinet, Touré appointed Sidiki Kaba as the new Minister of Justice. Kaba is the former head of the International Federation of Human Rights. His appointment has already come under attack because of his support for decriminalization of homosexuality. So, he’s got something going in his favor. While Senegalese women’s groups have hailed the appointment of Aminata Touré to Prime Minister, they also note with some dismay the mathematics of her Cabinet: 4 women, 28 men. It’s an important and newsworthy moment for Senegal and beyond, unless of course you rely on the Anglophone press. There, in the land of all the news that fits to print, nothing happened in Senegal. But something is happening. A feminist, women’s rights, reproductive rights, human rights activist with a history of accomplishments has become Prime Minister of Senegal: Aminata Touré. Bio Latest Posts Dan Moshenberg Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States, South Africa, and elsewhere. Director of the Women's Studies Program at the George Washington University, he also blogs at www.womeninandbeyond.org and, most recently, co-edited/co-created Searching for South Africa: The New Calculus of Dignity (Unisa Press, 2011).
Sunday, July 14, 2013
mass public shootings and copy-cat mass murders and there have been no gun confiscations of legally held guns. The leader of this group has proposed an even wider berth of gun ownership, even within the confines of our children’s schools. That this would make enormous profits for this group and the gun manufacturers who support it, is not the point. The point is their right. I want you to do something for me. Close your eyes. Picture this group of gun-wielding men spewing pieces of the Constitution from well-memorized pamphlets handed out at meetings. Picture the signs that they display that say, “We don’t call 9-1-1. We shoot.” Now imagine that that leader and his ilk are black. Let’s question whether Republicans would cling to their Second Amendment rights to bear assault weapons if Wayne LaPierre was black. Imagine, if you will, instead of an oldish looking white guy, whose looks don’t incite fear until he opens his mouth and the crazy pours out, a black man. Samuel L. Jackson comes to mind. He’s spewing about his right to form a militia as given to him by God and the Constitution. Do you feel differently? Tell me the truth – I won’t tell anyone. To white America, in some parts of the country more than others, the idea of a well-organized black self “regulated militia” inspires terror. It sounds like the Black Panthers. As it should. The answer to that is not that black Americans are scarier than whites, but that once the members of a group puts their (financial) goal ahead of the human lives of our citizenry, they have become a threat. And they are scary. Yet we have become so complacent as a people to believe that white men are less threatening, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of the mass murders that have terrorized the nation have been at their hands. Consider the mass hysteria induced by a handful of Saudis attacking the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and look at the measures we’ve taken to combat the Muslim stereotype. We could point to statistics of black on black crime and of black on white crime to try to justify the stance of the NRA to stand absolute against any reasonable restriction of high-capacity semi-automatic weapons, but it doesn’t compute. In fact, there was a time NRA stood up to help train black Americans to protect themselves from the Ku Klux Klan and the local police in the South. There was a very real threat of white Americans coming to inflict mortal harm on black men and the NRA used its power, much limited in scope than it is now, to support the right to bear arms for newly freed slaves after the Civil War. Where soldiers in the North were encouraged to keep their rifles after the war, black American soldiers in the South were told no go. Southern white men were suddenly very pro gun control. Black Panthers came in the 1960s to rectify that, carrying guns to the letter of the law. They armed themselves to the gills with weapons and a superior understanding of the law, believing that the power of equal treatment came with the ownership of guns. California’s open carry laws stipulated that guns must be seen and carried in a non-threatening way, and as such, the Black Panthers paraded with them. Your liberal friends have passed around the Ronald Reagan meme, which quotes him as saying when he was Governor of California, “I do not believe in taking away the right of a citizen for sporting, for hunting, and so forth. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon nor is needed for the defense of the home.” Reagan went on to say that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” This was his response to the Panthers. He was all for gun control, if it meant limiting the access of guns to black citizens. Somewhere along the line, the group of protectors known as the NRA was overtaken by white men with dollar signs in their eyes, and, as Lance Armstrong apparently did to himself, took a perfectly fine idea and pumped it full of steroids and padded their pockets doing it. And we let them. Because they don’t look threatening. There are still threats of bad people doing bad things. There is still a need for protection. Some would argue that there is a real need for guns for domestic protection: for the house, to ward against intruders. Defenders of the NRA believe that the base of this group still stands for protection. Yet, the NRA’s official stance on arming a person who has committed domestic abuse on his wife, girlfriend, partner, friend? – Protect the domestic violence abuser. The NRA has strayed so far from its roots as a protector of victims that it is now a protector of perpetrators. In most states, an order of protection will not translate into an order to surrender firearms, even if the order of protection is granted because of a threat with a firearm. In too many cases, as in the those of Diane Dye of Oklahoma, or Stephanie Holten of Washington, or Deborah Wigg of Virginia, the protection of a man threatening to use his supposed constitutionally ordained firearm to kill his wife has trumped the protection of the woman he threatened. His rights to bear arms usurped her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Or in these cases, her right to live, because two of the three are now dead. At the hands of white guys. If we’re looking at guns as a means of protection in this country, protection of the weak against the strong, the vulnerable against the powerful, the victims from the bullies, we need to look hard at who is writing our laws, who is financing our legislature, and most importantly, we need to adjust our ideas of exactly what a threatening mob looks like.
Jaime Franchi is a freelance writer living on Long Island. Her work can be found on Salon.com, Milieu Magazine, Punchnel’s, and soon in the New York Times “Motherlode” blog. www.JaimeFranchi.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Jaimimimama. Image via Wikimedia Commons/CC License/Tim Dobbelaere
Posted by la fin du siècle at 3:29 PM
Sunday, June 30, 2013
'Wilhelm von Humboldt's "most famous work is considered to be The Sphere and Duties of Government and carries the historical divide by this text, also available as free from copyright, Chapter VIII, "Amelioration of Morals":
From Liberal International:
'With “The Limits of State Action” Humboldt set one of the first intellectual highlights of liberal thinking ... His thinking about the self-development of *a human being (the words of this blogger) and the role of the state inspired many philosophers and politicians, among them John Stuart Mill. Humboldt argues in his famous essay that a state seeking to provide for more then the physical safety of the citizens will inevitably destroy the freedom and the creativity of the individuals. The only source of progress in a liberal society is the free interaction of free people. In Humboldt's thought human beings must strive for self-cultivation within society and require society for their full development.
Wilhelm v. Humboldt is best remembered… for his contribution to the educational reforms of the 19th century. As a member of the Prussian reform government he created the humanistic Gymnasium and founded the Berlin University. Several significant education systems in the world community are strongly influenced by his ideas.' *Two international examples are the US and Japan also use from this model of education.
A good contemporary example that intelligently ties due consideration together for ways democratic governments can get in their own way, is found in the book titled, Subversives, written by reporter Seth Rosenfeld, and published in 2012. Meanwhile, consider this interview with the author and a writer for the Academe Blog.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I am just going to post succinctly about this insecurity provoking issue, (*so-let's-not-talk-directly-about-it, NOT) thereby participating in issuing the call we must all heed.
I participate in this call to greater public discourse by weaving in other sources, where the seemingly complex reality of gun control is being called forth. Consider deeply that unless active participative consideration is not only given rather is equally acted on through meaningful dialog, we will only continue to get handed the watered-down version of unsatisfactory amendments to vote on, reflecting our vacancy in the great discourse. A vacancy exploited by every member of Congress insecure about how to keep their job in the next election cycle. I call on us all to get conscious about the collective reality of responsibility lack to nourish an all too often fragile nature of democracy, when we don't show up locally in our communities, at the state level and on the national level to participate in responsible dialog! Making a leap in imagination: can we be robustly proud again of being free without beating our chests in front of one another in the process of working out differences around this issue?
Consider this portrayal of the public profile, on the subject of gun control:
"...major problem with the American conversation on guns is that too often the many factions that exist are represented as two simplified camps: liberals, who want to completely ban guns, and conservatives, who want all guns legal, and believe everyone should carry one (if not several!)."
Is it an accurate portrayal? In either direction, how so?
I ask the middle majority and the fringe liberal majority, can we also assert the courage to take leadership responsibilities by mentoring confidence about discussing intense issues that must be worked out among us? I know we are not ALL only prone to unconscious judgmental reactionism in our capacities for meaningful forms of communication and inter-personal dialog. I know we still have pockets of observation, listening, and inquiry-based communication skills that we all need and can put to put to work for the greater good on this issue about HOW we are going to live more responsibly with the dangerous responsibilities of gun ownership.
Consider as you begin your commitment to dialog, how does it look and sound as we begin to flesh out our assumptions on either side of the issue(s)? Are any of those perspectives of assumption truly accurate? "Most people seem to be somewhere in the middle: they agree that there should be a protected right to own certain guns, but also that we need to have a critical discussion about what “guns” really means, and what legal steps we might take to lessen the chance of unwanted shootings." How accurate or inaccurate are our assumptions about this conversation proceeding constructively/cohesively in the arcing commitment to respect and safety about differences?
For example, do we really only "believe the discussion on gun control is nothing more than a discussion on gun laws?"
After differences are established and rebutted appropriately, what happens next in the national conversation?
Remember, we don't have to compete to open a conversation about strong issues, and we don't have to make a decision because we start talking with each other, especially where we differ passionately. Yet through conversation, let us keep faith that we can arrive at a collective decision solidly reflective of our commitment to dialog in ways that make us proud of our efforts with one another. Efforts that include conscious recognition that having disagreements along the way is truly expected, because we have not lost ability to trust in ourselves and one another as capable of arriving at a wholly reflective set of choices we agree to now. Just as actively communicating allows us to bring our skillful abilities to disagree peacefully and respectfully_ we enter these conversations conscious that disagreements are part of the enriching reality of even reaching toward agreement with one another, because mutual commitment to our collective responsibilities of refueling our beloved, collectively participative definition of Democracy is at the center of our national commitment to keep negotiating with one another.
*The quotes I found reasonable to pull from as I framed this post, are located under the CC attribute on this blog: http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2012/07/three-problems-with-american-debate-on.html
Posted by la fin du siècle at 1:23 PM
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
(First in English Translation)
"In receiving the distinction with which your free Academy has so generously honoured me, my gratitude has been profound, particularly when I consider the extent to which this recompense has surpassed my personal merits. Every man, and for stronger reasons, every artist, wants to be recognized. So do I. But I have not been able to learn of your decision without comparing its repercussions to what I really am. A man almost young, rich only in his doubts and with his work still in progress, accustomed to living in the solitude of work or in the retreats of friendship: how would he not feel a kind of panic at hearing the decree that transports him all of a sudden, alone and reduced to himself, to the centre of a glaring light? And with what feelings could he accept this honour at a time when other writers in Europe, among them the very greatest, are condemned to silence, and even at a time when the country of his birth is going through unending misery?
I felt that shock and inner turmoil. In order to regain peace I have had, in short, to come to terms with a too generous fortune. And since I cannot live up to it by merely resting on my achievement, I have found nothing to support me but what has supported me through all my life, even in the most contrary circumstances: the idea that I have of my art and of the role of the writer. Let me only tell you, in a spirit of gratitude and friendship, as simply as I can, what this idea is.
For myself, I cannot live without my art. But I have never placed it above everything. If, on the other hand, I need it, it is because it cannot be separated from my fellow men, and it allows me to live, such as I am, on one level with them. It is a means of stirring the greatest number of people by offering them a privileged picture of common joys and sufferings. It obliges the artist not to keep himself apart; it subjects him to the most humble and the most universal truth. And often he who has chosen the fate of the artist because he felt himself to be different soon realizes that he can maintain neither his art nor his difference unless he admits that he is like the others. The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides in this world, they can perhaps side only with that society in which, according to Nietzsche's great words, not the judge but the creator will rule, whether he be a worker or an intellectual.
By the same token, the writer's role is not free from difficult duties. By definition he cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it. Otherwise, he will be alone and deprived of his art. Not all the armies of tyranny with their millions of men will free him from his isolation, even and particularly if he falls into step with them. But the silence of an unknown prisoner, abandoned to humiliations at the other end of the world, is enough to draw the writer out of his exile, at least whenever, in the midst of the privileges of freedom, he manages not to forget that silence, and to transmit it in order to make it resound by means of his art.
None of us is great enough for such a task. But in all circumstances of life, in obscurity or temporary fame, cast in the irons of tyranny or for a time free to express himself, the writer can win the heart of a living community that will justify him, on the one condition that he will accept to the limit of his abilities the two tasks that constitute the greatness of his craft: the service of truth and the service of liberty. Because his task is to unite the greatest possible number of people, his art must not compromise with lies and servitude which, wherever they rule, breed solitude. Whatever our personal weaknesses may be, the nobility of our craft will always be rooted in two commitments, difficult to maintain: the refusal to lie about what one knows and the resistance to oppression.
For more than twenty years of an insane history, hopelessly lost like all the men of my generation in the convulsions of time, I have been supported by one thing: by the hidden feeling that to write today was an honour because this activity was a commitment - and a commitment not only to write. Specifically, in view of my powers and my state of being, it was a commitment to bear, together with all those who were living through the same history, the misery and the hope we shared. These men, who were born at the beginning of the First World War, who were twenty when Hitler came to power and the first revolutionary trials were beginning, who were then confronted as a completion of their education with the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the world of concentration camps, a Europe of torture and prisons - these men must today rear their sons and create their works in a world threatened by nuclear destruction. Nobody, I think, can ask them to be optimists. And I even think that we should understand - without ceasing to fight it - the error of those who in an excess of despair have asserted their right to dishonour and have rushed into the nihilism of the era. But the fact remains that most of us, in my country and in Europe, have refused this nihilism and have engaged upon a quest for legitimacy. They have had to forge for themselves an art of living in times of catastrophe in order to be born a second time and to fight openly against the instinct of death at work in our history.
Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself. Heir to a corrupt history, in which are mingled fallen revolutions, technology gone mad, dead gods, and worn-out ideologies, where mediocre powers can destroy all yet no longer know how to convince, where intelligence has debased itself to become the servant of hatred and oppression, this generation starting from its own negations has had to re-establish, both within and without, a little of that which constitutes the dignity of life and death. In a world threatened by disintegration, in which our grand inquisitors run the risk of establishing forever the kingdom of death, it knows that it should, in an insane race against the clock, restore among the nations a peace that is not servitude, reconcile anew labour and culture, and remake with all men the Ark of the Covenant. It is not certain that this generation will ever be able to accomplish this immense task, but already it is rising everywhere in the world to the double challenge of truth and liberty and, if necessary, knows how to die for it without hate. Wherever it is found, it deserves to be saluted and encouraged, particularly where it is sacrificing itself. In any event, certain of your complete approval, it is to this generation that I should like to pass on the honour that you have just given me.
At the same time, after having outlined the nobility of the writer's craft, I should have put him in his proper place. He has no other claims but those which he shares with his comrades in arms: vulnerable but obstinate, unjust but impassioned for justice, doing his work without shame or pride in view of everybody, not ceasing to be divided between sorrow and beauty, and devoted finally to drawing from his double existence the creations that he obstinately tries to erect in the destructive movement of history. Who after all this can expect from him complete solutions and high morals? Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road. What writer would from now on in good conscience dare set himself up as a preacher of virtue? For myself, I must state once more that I am not of this kind. I have never been able to renounce the light, the pleasure of being, and the freedom in which I grew up. But although this nostalgia explains many of my errors and my faults, it has doubtless helped me toward a better understanding of my craft. It is helping me still to support unquestioningly all those silent men who sustain the life made for them in the world only through memory of the return of brief and free happiness.
Thus reduced to what I really am, to my limits and debts as well as to my difficult creed, I feel freer, in concluding, to comment upon the extent and the generosity of the honour you have just bestowed upon me, freer also to tell you that I would receive it as an homage rendered to all those who, sharing in the same fight, have not received any privilege, but have on the contrary known misery and persecution. It remains for me to thank you from the bottom of my heart and to make before you publicly, as a personal sign of my gratitude, the same and ancient promise of faithfulness which every true artist repeats to himself in silence every day."
And as originally delivered in French:
"Sire, Madame, Altesses Royales, Mesdames, Messieurs,
En recevant la distinction dont votre libre Académie a bien voulu m'honorer, ma gratitude était d'autant plus profonde que je mesurais à quel point cette récompense dépassait mes mérites personnels. Tout homme et, à plus forte raison, tout artiste, désire être reconnu. Je le désire aussi. Mais il ne m'a pas été possible d'apprendre votre décision sans comparer son retentissement à ce que je suis réellement. Comment un homme presque jeune, riche de ses seuls doutes et d'une œuvre encore en chantier, habitué à vivre dans la solitude du travail ou dans les retraites de l'amitié, n'aurait-il pas appris avec une sorte de panique un arrêt qui le portait d'un coup, seul et réduit à lui-même, au centre d'une lumière crue ? De quel cœur aussi pouvait-il recevoir cet honneur à l'heure où, en Europe, d'autres écrivains, parmi les plus grands, sont réduits au silence, et dans le temps même où sa terre natale connaît un malheur incessant ?
J'ai connu ce désarroi et ce trouble intérieur. Pour retrouver la paix, il m'a fallu, en somme, me mettre en règle avec un sort trop généreux. Et, puisque je ne pouvais m'égaler à lui en m'appuyant sur mes seuls mérites, je n'ai rien trouvé d'autre pour m'aider que ce qui m'a soutenu tout au long de ma vie, et dans les circonstances les plus contraires : l'idée que je me fais de mon art et du rôle de l'écrivain. Permettez seulement que, dans un sentiment de reconnaissance et d'amitié, je vous dise, aussi simplement que je le pourrai, quelle est cette idée.
Je ne puis vivre personnellement sans mon art. Mais je n'ai jamais placé cet art au-dessus de tout. S'il m'est nécessaire au contraire, c'est qu'il ne se sépare de personne et me permet de vivre, tel que je suis, au niveau de tous. L'art n'est pas à mes yeux une réjouissance solitaire. Il est un moyen d'émouvoir le plus grand nombre d'hommes en leur offrant une image privilégiée des souffrances et des joies communes. Il oblige donc l'artiste à ne pas se séparer ; il le soumet à la vérité la plus humble et la plus universelle. Et celui qui, souvent, a choisi son destin d'artiste parce qu'il se sentait différent apprend bien vite qu'il ne nourrira son art, et sa différence, qu'en avouant sa ressemblance avec tous. L'artiste se forge dans cet aller retour perpétuel de lui aux autres, à mi-chemin de la beauté dont il ne peut se passer et de la communauté à laquelle il ne peut s'arracher. C'est pourquoi les vrais artistes ne méprisent rien ; ils s'obligent à comprendre au lieu de juger. Et s'ils ont un parti à prendre en ce monde ce ne peut être que celui d'une société où, selon le grand mot de Nietzsche, ne règnera plus le juge, mais le créateur, qu'il soit travailleur ou intellectuel.
Le rôle de l'écrivain, du même coup, ne se sépare pas de devoirs difficiles. Par définition, il ne peut se mettre aujourd'hui au service de ceux qui font l'histoire : il est au service de ceux qui la subissent. Ou sinon, le voici seul et privé de son art. Toutes les armées de la tyrannie avec leurs millions d'hommes ne l'enlèveront pas à la solitude, même et surtout s'il consent à prendre leur pas. Mais le silence d'un prisonnier inconnu, abandonné aux humiliations à l'autre bout du monde, suffit à retirer l'écrivain de l'exil chaque fois, du moins, qu'il parvient, au milieu des privilèges de la liberté, à ne pas oublier ce silence, et à le relayer pour le faire retentir par les moyens de l'art.
Aucun de nous n'est assez grand pour une pareille vocation. Mais dans toutes les circonstances de sa vie, obscur ou provisoirement célèbre, jeté dans les fers de la tyrannie ou libre pour un temps de s'exprimer, l'écrivain peut retrouver le sentiment d'une communauté vivante qui le justifiera, à la seule condition qu'il accepte, autant qu'il peut, les deux charges qui font la grandeur de son métier : le service de la vérité et celui de la liberté. Puisque sa vocation est de réunir le plus grand nombre d'hommes possible, elle ne peut s'accommoder du mensonge et de la servitude qui, là où ils règnent, font proliférer les solitudes. Quelles que soient nos infirmités personnelles, la noblesse de notre métier s'enracinera toujours dans deux engagements difficiles à maintenir : le refus de mentir sur ce que l'on sait et la résistance à l'oppression.
Pendant plus de vingt ans d'une histoire démentielle, perdu sans secours, comme tous les hommes de mon âge, dans les convulsions du temps, j'ai été soutenu ainsi : par le sentiment obscur qu'écrire était aujourd'hui un honneur, parce que cet acte obligeait, et obligeait à ne pas écrire seulement. Il m'obligeait particulièrement à porter, tel que j'étais et selon mes forces, avec tous ceux qui vivaient la même histoire, le malheur et l'espérance que nous partagions. Ces hommes, nés au début de la première guerre mondiale, qui ont eu vingt ans au moment où s'installaient à la fois le pouvoir hitlérien et les premiers procès révolutionnaires, qui furent confrontés ensuite, pour parfaire leur éducation, à la guerre d'Espagne, à la deuxième guerre mondiale, à l'univers concentrationnaire, à l'Europe de la torture et des prisons, doivent aujourd'hui élever leurs fils et leurs œuvres dans un monde menacé de destruction nucléaire. Personne, je suppose, ne peut leur demander d'être optimistes. Et je suis même d'avis que nous devons comprendre, sans cesser de lutter contre eux, l'erreur de ceux qui, par une surenchère de désespoir, ont revendiqué le droit au déshonneur, et se sont rués dans les nihilismes de l'époque. Mais il reste que la plupart d'entre nous, dans mon pays et en Europe, ont refusé ce nihilisme et se sont mis à la recherche d'une légitimité. Il leur a fallu se forger un art de vivre par temps de catastrophe, pour naître une seconde fois, et lutter ensuite, à visage découvert, contre l'instinct de mort à l'œuvre dans notre histoire.
Chaque génération, sans doute, se croit vouée à refaire le monde. La mienne sait pourtant qu'elle ne le refera pas. Mais sa tâche est peut-être plus grande. Elle consiste à empêcher que le monde se défasse. Héritière d'une histoire corrompue où se mêlent les révolutions déchues, les techniques devenues folles, les dieux morts et les idéologies exténuées, où de médiocres pouvoirs peuvent aujourd'hui tout détruire mais ne savent plus convaincre, où l'intelligence s'est abaissée jusqu'à se faire la servante de la haine et de l'oppression, cette génération a dû, en elle-même et autour d'elle, restaurer, à partir de ses seules négations, un peu de ce qui fait la dignité de vivre et de mourir. Devant un monde menacé de désintégration, où nos grands inquisiteurs risquent d'établir pour toujours les royaumes de la mort, elle sait qu'elle devrait, dans une sorte de course folle contre la montre, restaurer entre les nations une paix qui ne soit pas celle de la servitude, réconcilier à nouveau travail et culture, et refaire avec tous les hommes une arche d'alliance. Il n'est pas sûr qu'elle puisse jamais accomplir cette tâche immense, mais il est sûr que partout dans le monde, elle tient déjà son double pari de vérité et de liberté, et, à l'occasion, sait mourir sans haine pour lui. C'est elle qui mérite d'être saluée et encouragée partout où elle se trouve, et surtout là où elle se sacrifie. C'est sur elle, en tout cas, que, certain de votre accord profond, je voudrais reporter l'honneur que vous venez de me faire.
Du même coup, après avoir dit la noblesse du métier d'écrire, j'aurais remis l'écrivain à sa vraie place, n'ayant d'autres titres que ceux qu'il partage avec ses compagnons de lutte, vulnérable mais entêté, injuste et passionné de justice, construisant son œuvre sans honte ni orgueil à la vue de tous, sans cesse partagé entre la douleur et la beauté, et voué enfin à tirer de son être double les créations qu'il essaie obstinément d'édifier dans le mouvement destructeur de l'histoire. Qui, après cela, pourrait attendre de lui des solutions toutes faites et de belles morales ? La vérité est mystérieuse, fuyante, toujours à conquérir. La liberté est dangereuse, dure à vivre autant qu'exaltante. Nous devons marcher vers ces deux buts, péniblement, mais résolument, certains d'avance de nos défaillances sur un si long chemin. Quel écrivain, dès lors oserait, dans la bonne conscience, se faire prêcheur de vertu ? Quant à moi, il me faut dire une fois de plus que je ne suis rien de tout cela. Je n'ai jamais pu renoncer à la lumière, au bonheur d'être, à la vie libre où j'ai grandi. Mais bien que cette nostalgie explique beaucoup de mes erreurs et de mes fautes, elle m'a aidé sans doute à mieux comprendre mon métier, elle m'aide encore à me tenir, aveuglément, auprès de tous ces hommes silencieux qui ne supportent, dans le monde, la vie qui leur est faite que par le souvenir ou le retour de brefs et libres bonheurs.
Ramené ainsi à ce que je suis réellement, à mes limites, à mes dettes, comme à ma foi difficile, je me sens plus libre de vous montrer pour finir, l'étendue et la générosité de la distinction que vous venez de m'accorder, plus libre de vous dire aussi que je voudrais la recevoir comme un hommage rendu à tous ceux qui, partageant le même combat, n'en ont reçu aucun privilège, mais ont connu au contraire malheur et persécution. Il me restera alors à vous en remercier, du fond du cœur, et à vous faire publiquement, en témoignage personnel de gratitude, la même et ancienne promesse de fidélité que chaque artiste vrai, chaque jour, se fait à lui-même, dans le silence."
"Albert Camus - Banquet Speech". Nobelprize.org. 4 Dec 2012 http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1957/camus-speech.html
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
November 6, 2012_ not very far away! What are you doing between now and then to take care of democracy no matter how bogged down perceptions may be in reactionary judgmentalism?!!
Isn't it a grand thing to have freedom to criticize everything to the point of unconsciousness & limited exposure?
Not to insult people_ rather to hold up a mirror. Find your courage to step out from behind always only criticizing as a form of communication. Take constructive & healthy action on behalf of the rights you truly hold dear!
The French did it by God! So can WE!