“Blessed Unrest”- You’ve got to start sometime, somewhere.

by on August 17, 2010 · 4 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Health, History, Organizing

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming – A Book Review

Having escaped high school by my junior year, passing the California High School Equivalency exam, continuing on to the community college system and gaining enough technical education to get a decent job, I never got much of an education in history or government.

blessedunrestI worked for a company that was owned by a fairly progressive thinking family, manufacturing goods used mainly by environmental agencies and educational institutions. It was gratifying work and allowed me to care for my family in a simple fashion, we didn’t want for much, but we didn’t want much either. I went about my daily life pretty isolated from the issues that affect so many, I had a job, we had health insurance and until that company closed I didn’t really understand how good we had it.

Although I always held a liberal point of view I was never very political, and the election of George W. Bush (not once, but twice!) further disenchanted me from participating the political process. Then I met Frank. A few months later I was at my first demonstration, supporting the people of Potrero who were trying to stop Blackwater from moving in.

The more I learned the more depressed I got. There just seemed to be so much that was screwed up… I asked Frank, “how do you not go crazy?” “Sometimes you do,” was his answer, “and sometimes you burn out.”

At a recent OB Rag staff meeting a few folks were talking about books they had read recently and Ernie McCray recommended Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawkin as an “amazing book that gets at the good work that so many millions of people like those of us in the OB Rag, are doing to make the world a better place.”

This book is a wonderful history lesson for people like me. He covers a lot of ground in a few pages and put the deeds to so many of the names I was familiar with, Darwin, Gandhi, Rachel Carson, Thoreau. He asserts that environmental issues and social justice are inexorably entwined, that you cannot respect people without respecting the land that they live on. In the chapter named “Indigene” he chronicles the fates of indigenous peoples throughout the world at the hands of those seeking treasure, whether gold or oil.

“I am large, I contain multitudes.”  ~Walt Whitman

rightsI read this book with equal amounts of anger, sadness, hopefulness and joy. In one chapter the author details the events surrounding the huge demonstration in November of 1999 at the World Trade Organization’s Third Ministerial in Seattle and describes the policies of the World Bank. That the rights of businesses have overshadowed the rights of individuals, but how small groups of  people have risen up to fight them, to demand accountability and responsibility, and how they’ve won.

What can those small groups accomplish, as they join forces, link arms and present a front? An incredible multitude of things. More than a third of the book is an alphabetical list of  NGOs (non governmental organizations) the span the globe, dealing with everything from agriculture to worker’s rights. You can be part of the ever expanding network of people that work on behalf of the earth and her people at WiserEarth.org.

In a nutshell, read this book for history, the past. Read it for inspiration, the future. I’m glad I did. Thanks, Ernie.

To find this book in the San Diego City Library system go HERE, type in Blessed Unrest and click the “title” button. In the San Diego County Library click HERE. Or order this book from Amazon.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ernie McCray August 17, 2010 at 12:03 pm

It is, indeed, an amazing book, written by a man of almost unbelievable intelligence who is capable of of seeing the silver lining in an ocean of muck. But better yet he’s a genius at getting us to see it too, and to showing those of us who want to change the world that we are, in no way, alone, that we must press on, not in panic, but in an organized “true to our beliefs” manner.


JMW August 17, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Patty, very nice. I’ll give it a try. Caring is as old as humans are.


Diane5150 August 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

I am lucky to be living in a time and place in human history where I have the freedom to speak out loud. Historically, a woman like me would have been permanently locked in a mental institution.
While much has changed in female human history, many things have not; women and girls are still used as sex slaves; men still take ownership of women, and kill them with impunity and women are still being killed publicly by order of law.
I feel the pain of my sisters throughout the world who suffer the willful ignorance of half the world’s population. I understand the self-hatred driving those women, whose mission in life is hating other women.
This is my message to you all “we are doomed.”
From the moment we are born, we are doomed to die.
What have you done with your time? Have you been led by your fear down the dark path to slavery? I believe the world is seething with thwarted passions, inappropriately expressed anger, and fear of the authentic self.
If you feel homicidal, suicidal, or sex crazed, you are normal. Half the world is right now trying to become master of the other half. The inside of you is a mirror of the outside.
I say rejoice in you normality. Throw political correctness to the wind and reveal yourself as the hate filled, ignoramus that you are.
Let go of your fear, then breathe deep, your first breath of true freedom. It is better to be an honest ignoramus than a self-righteous sociopath bent on power and tyranny.
Powerful is the knowledge of your impending death, live each day as if it were your last.
So say, “all who were doomed before you.”


Frank Gormlie August 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

Patty, very inspirational post, with a huge personal touch that captures the reader. You are my inspiration, girl! Thank you for being there and making this blog/ website a reality.


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