The tremendous activist and writer Juan Rafael Santos, I just learned, died last month. So, I write this commemoration in both grief and celebration of his life.
I deeply admired, respected and valued Juan, and recall many of our conversations over the past few years, which were evidence of his full breadth of being. As such, they included topics as ranging as the plight of lepers in Trinidad, nuclear disarmament, globalization of industry, climate change, the Masai of E. Africa, his sense of fierce protection towards all harmed people, the foundations of spirituality, the development of ethics in young children, heart wrenching works of art, the positive kinds of cultural universalities that all of humankind expresses, overpopulation, his health problems, his employment, his tenderness towards several colleagues and friends, his unyielding efforts to support indigenous native and Chicano causes, the worsening economic and environmental collapses; his enthusiasm over the insights of Russell Means, William Kötke and others; the roots of his moral indignation, compassion and courage to carry onward despite periods of despair; and other matters far too numerous to mention.
Often I reflected on his strong sense of duty to provide outstanding service to others on a continual basis, his profound sensitivity towards all forms of life and life as an integrated wholeness, his seemingly bottomless caring for the Earth, itself; his many tireless humanitarian activities and intense compositions, including the last writing of his that I'd read -- "The Lessons Of Gaza In A Time Of Collapse And Rebirth" -- that can be obtained through an online search. Indeed, one could relish all of his various forms of outreach as a consistent inspirational theme ran through every single one of them pointing to his immense love of the world, undeniable need to relentlessly "speak truth to power," persistent backing of just actions, and unswerving desire to improve the quality of life for all...
I'm weeping as I gather my thoughts on him together in this farewell message. Yet despite my sorrow and wish that I could have told him one more time that I cherish him, I realize that his stance STILL means so much to many of us. Indeed, it can continue to serve to rally many people, even ones who did not know him, onward as we collectively struggle against losing hope in the face of great suffering in the world and concerning which we are forced to bear witness again and again as we try to provide whatever modest relief as we can manage to muster while confronting huge daunting global and smaller scale problems as exist in these troubling times. As such, he can continue to provide the example of goodness that he so thoroughly expressed in his living as his spirit can carry on through others -- the persons who, like him, offer their utmost best efforts to try to improve the quality of life on a grand sweeping scale.
Meanwhile, there is so much about him that is memorable, such as his involvement with South Central Farm, a cause about which he was so passionate that, when I urged and pleaded with him to leave LA due to the looming water shortage and other factors, he, alternately hopeful and gloomy, told me that he had to stay where he was to try to make this farming venture and other ones in which he was engaged "work" since so many people, in fundamental and critical ways, depend on them. Certainly, he never quit whenever an activity got dauntingly hard, but simply exerted himself all the more in response.
In the end, I will always remember Juan for his unswerving ethical resolve and dedication to provide all that he, humanly, could in the areas of human rights and environmental well-being. Even when it sharply pained him to type articles because of a severe longstanding back injury, he carried onward due to caring ever so much more about his causes than his own distress. This was always the case whether some personal trouble was brought about by a physical problem or due to his compassionate sensitivity and for which he sometimes used anger to mask.
So as I try to sum him up (a task that can never be completed) and make sense of his life, I realize that I will sorely feel his absence more and more with the passage of time, but will strive all the harder, by right actions, to make up for the gaping hole that his death has produced. All the same, no one, it would seem, can quite fill it. Such was the largeness of his being.
If you wish to know more about Juan's life and passing, you can find it on at least two pages at
click here click here and his web site, http://the-fourth-world.blogspot.com/. At the third listing, one can contribute and read memorial statements, as well as gain access to a wealth of Juan's writings and other affirmative material.
Farewell to a dear friend, an individual who can easily serve as a standard for humanitarian and environmental activism, and, in the final reckoning, a successful champion of myriad causes. You were treasured and you will be missed.