Can you feel nostalgia for what has never been known, for what has never been lived? I don’t know another name to what this reading produced to me.
United States, 1960s: the struggle for racial equality moves to the streets and the author is actively involved in it. Earlier, he told us of his humble origins. Son of emigrants from Eastern Europe; His first youth in which he knew the hard work of the worker; Then his enthusiastic participation in World War II as a bomber. And from here the most fascinating: the surprising personal evolution of Howard Zinn. I find it comforting to see how we have the capacity to develop, change, discard attitudes, change, improving in the end. He studied with a scholarship at the university and managed to become a well-known teacher and an activist of peace and social justice. His intellectual lucidity led him to analyze carefully what governments and powerful present as inevitable need, the lies they use to convince and manipulate. He became a brilliant writer and lecturer who defended disobedience to power, imposition, war and imperialism.
You can be neutral on a moving train is written in first person, but the humility of the author makes it a choral work: many names appear on their pages and sometimes it is a bit overwhelming. Some of them are of internationally resonant characters and others (those who produce me most tenderly) of anonymous characters capable of shuddering gestures of generosity and heroism in defense of what is right.
The description of this environment of struggle, of surrender to a cause, is what has moved me the most and is what has produced me this kind of nostalgia, which contravenes its definition in the dictionary. In these times when we lose guarantees that have cost so many years, so much suffering to get, I would like to open this book again and, as if by magic, that force, that union against the odds, that unconscious struggle of the danger that their pages describe invade us, expand, permeate our minds and our lives; And then we suddenly understood that peaceful struggle is the only way. That small gestures are responsible of the great changes we have in our modest hands to build a better and more just world. But for this, we must be anything but impassive, indifferent to the injustice exercised against ourselves and also against others (social welfare is not possible if it does not reach all without exception). Great truth of his title, which, perhaps unintentionally, can be understood almost as the moral of this great book.
NOSTALGIA: Melancholy sadness caused by the memory of lost happiness.