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A Labor Day Tribute to a Flaming Liberal: Robin Williams

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One of the things I love about Labor Day is that liberals are allowed to say they are liberals. We don’t have to call ourselves “progressives” because that’s what the focus groups recommend, or mutter equivocal statements such as “Yes, I’m a liberal but I’m actually a moderate on this-or-that.”

On Labor Day, everyone remembers that weekends and sick leave are good things, and that we have liberal labor unions to thank for them.

Elected officials aren’t allowed to mention such things for fear of being labeled a socialist or a community organizer, but regular folks may still — only on Labor Day — refer to antiquated concepts like “looking out for each other” or even “lending a hand when someone’s in trouble.”

Last year, I blogged about the history of Labor Day in A Shout Out to America’s Labor Unions, which you can read here.

A Union Brother

This year, I want to honor a flaming liberal, Robin Williams. Robin was an active union member and won two Screen Actor’s Guild awards, the only awards that specifically recognize union members. He became a member of the Guild in 1977, just a year after he left Julliard acting school, and the same year that he had his television debut on Laugh-In. He was a strong union supporter for the rest of his life.

Robin Williams, R.I.P. photo credit: Joe's Union Review

Robin Williams, R.I.P.
photo credit: Joe’s Union Review

A Heart of Love and Compassion

According to national union organizer Stewart Acuff, Robin was “one of the entertainment industry’s most progressive performers. He financially and vocally and energetically supported progressive ideas and causes and Democratic political candidates time after time after time . . . Robin Williams was one of us progressives with a heart of love and compassion, a commitment to justice and to the human race, and a commitment to creating a more perfect union.”

That sounds like the definition of a liberal to me, except that unlike the stereotypical sour-faced liberal who takes everything just SOOO seriously, Robin was, of course, very funny. He did annual televised comedy fundraisers for homeless people with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, and he was masterful at delivering serious social messages with a huge dose of laughter, tackling issues like healthcare (Patch Adams) and the horrors of war (Good Morning, Vietnam).

Sometimes it’s the ones with the softest hearts who can’t survive in this world. We will march on in your memory, Robin.

This Labor Day, do justice, love kindness, and march humbly with your God. Like a good liberal. (Micah 6:8)

And please hug a union member!

An impromptu shrine to Robin in Keene, NH

An impromptu shrine to Robin in Keene, NH where he filmed scenes from the movie Jumanji.

Robin's Theological Reflection

Robin’s Theological Reflection

Amen

Amen

 

Melting Barriers on February 17th

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What do a 78-year-old retiree, a union organizer, and a bunch of evangelical Christian students have in common? We are all marching on Washington to support Obama’s pledge to take action on climate!

Green God-People, Meet the Funny Atheists

I seem to have gotten myself into an awkward position. Three dear friends, all avowed atheists who don’t know each other, have said they’ll join me in D.C. for the climate rally on February 17th.  I thought my retired activist neighbor, my liberal, rant-prone lawyer friend, and a professional union organizer would get along pretty well, all being somewhat cynical and funny as all get-out.

Then I started hearing from my friends in the Christian community, including a boat-load of young evangelicals who care passionately about protecting the planet. They are coming from all over the country to meet downtown for the rally and want me to join them.

You bet!

I think it’s supremely important that our politicians understand that not all Christians will be co-opted by the right-wing’s corporately funded anti-environmental campaigns. There are many – myself included – who take seriously their responsibility to be stewards of creation.

There are also several interfaith groups marching, and they want to meet up with the Christians. This is exciting news, because oftentimes the various religious groups prefer to remain separate, even when they agree on an issue.

It’s sounding like a movement!

Of course there are bus loads of environmentalists heading to D.C., too, but I can hang out with them any old time. This is a day for crossing boundaries.

Coming Together

So far, I’ve only ‘fessed up to one of my atheist buddies that we’ll be joining the God-people. To be fair, I didn’t know it when I invited them. She’s cool with it and is going to bring lots of green union stickers for the assembled. We’ll see how my other non-faith friends react – perhaps they are finding out about it as they read this blog post.

The broad representation at this rally shows that when it comes to protecting our home planet, we can all find common cause. We might agree about little else, but we will come together in a spirit of peace and cooperation on February 17th to say that :

It is past time to move forward on climate!

Peace Depends on Climate Action – NOW

I am a member of the Bloggers for Peace group, and I believe that nothing – NOTHING – is going to be a bigger threat to world peace than climate change. In the decades to come, wars over fresh water, food, and arable land will increase as the climate becomes more unstable. We will witness famines and floods of refugees the likes of which we can’t even imagine. I choose not to dwell on these likelihoods – there are children I love who will pay the price, and it makes me too sad.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to put my head in the mud left behind by Katrina and Sandy and pretend it isn’t happening. That is nothing short of insane. I’m going to wave my sign and scream my head off and act as if this could be the end of the human race, becausewell, please come to D.C. for the rally.

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If you have questions about transportation, housing, etc, check the FAQ page here: action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=forwardonclimate_faq. Any specific questions not answered there, feel free to email forwardonclimate@gmail.com and somebody will get back to you ASAP.

A few related posts:

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/extremism-in-defense-of-the-planet/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/every-day-disasters/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/hope-or-hostility-in-a-multi-faith-world/

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